We just sent out this email to our friends in the USA. Not on our email list yet? Sign up here to receive crucial updates from the climate movement.
As we head into the thick of summer, things are heating up, and I'm not talking about the weather.
For the past month, we've been working with organizers and activists all over the country on organizing mobilizations to bring the heat to the fossil fuel industry, starting in late July. Here's just some of what's in store:
Folks in Ohio are gearing up to address the fracking industry with power in numbers, Nebraska and Houston are ramping up local campaigns to show that community power can stop the Keystone XL pipeline, Utah is bustling around plans to stop the first US tar sands development, and Massachusetts activists are organizing to shut down Brayton Point Coal Plant, the largest fossil fuel plant between Maryland and Maine.
And here's more exciting news: in the past few weeks, we've been working in close partnership with organizers to put even more actions on the map.
In Richmond, California we're supporting local community groups hosting a Festival of Resistance against Chevron's Bay Area refinery on August 3rd. Thousands of people from across the region will challenge Chevron for their support of tar sands development, the impacts their dirty refinery has on the surrounding residents, and their poor safety standards that caused a massive fire last year.
And in Portland, Oregon on July 27th we're supporting a regional mobilization on the Columbia River to keep fossil fuel exports out of the Pacific Northwest. (boaters are encouraged, but we need you on the shore as well!)
This is a going to be a big summer because we're a big movement. Thousands of people have already signed up to join these actions -- click here to be a part of an epic summer of action: joinsummerheat.org/map
Rae and the Summer Heat Team
Our team at 350.org had the honor of playing a very small part in developing a vitally important new course being offerred for free online at NextGenU. Here's the quick blurb from the course page on the NextGenU website:
This Climate Change and Health Certificate teaches about the effects of climate change on human health (through online didactics), and gives a chance to practice techniques to reduce those effects (with globally-available peers and mentors). All components of this training (like all NextGenU.org trainings) are free, including registration, learning, testing, and a certificate of completion.
The climate crisis touches all aspects of our lives -- and understanding how it intersects with human health is, quite literally, a vital matter. If you're interested in diving deeper, head on over to NextGenU and sign up!
This post was written by Lisa Altieri, an organizer with 350 Silicon Valley
On June 6th over 400 people, local residents and activists from all over the San Francisco Bay Area protested in Palo Alto to tell President Obama – STOP the Keystone XL Pipeline as he was attending a fundraising event for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at a private home in Palo Alto. Many protesters were supporters of the President including some who worked on his campaign. We were there to make sure he knows we are counting on him to keep his promises on climate and clean energy and protect our planet for future generations.
One of the biggest challenges we face on climate is the timeline on impacts – people can and do make change on a large scale in the face of a crisis. We have seen this in history where societies mobilize and take action in the face of adversity. But with climate, the crisis will come long after we have emitted the CO2 – the reality is there is a time lag between when we emit CO2 and when the impacts occur. The intense storms, fires and droughts we are experiencing here in the US and globally are the results of emissions 40-50 years ago due primarily to the time it takes the oceans to warm.
Since the full effects of our emission will not be immediately visible to spur action, we need to be vocal – we need to speak for the planet loudly and often until it is clear we MUST act and we MUST act NOW. And above all we need to make sure that we provide people a vision of where we are going – not only can we do this, but where we are headed, the solutions, will create a far better world than we have now. Done right, the solution will not destroy our economy, but create jobs, provide cleaner air and a much safer planet. On June 6th, we were one voice as part of the many voices around the world, we spoke for the planet and we spoke LOUD!
The best part of the event for me was the great coalition on climate we are building here. 350, 350 Silicon Valley and all our 350 local groups in the Bay Area are working to build coalitions with other local and national groups to work together to make our voices heard. The event in Palo Alto was organized by a coalition including the Sierra Club, CREDO Action, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth. It is through these coalitions, coming together and working together that we will be stronger – we will be louder and we will really make and impact. It was wonderful working with everyone on the event and I look forward to building and growing our coalition and our local climate movement.
We’re following up this great event with a meetup to talk about next steps (over margaritas!) Here is the info and where to go to sign up:
What: 350 Silicon Valley Meeting & Margaritas
When: Tuesday, June 25th 7 pm, Palo Alto
Join us for Margaritas and learn about our new 350 Silicon Valley Group! If you already know about us, join us anyway and meet some other members! We will talk about our local campaigns and how you can get involved and take action on climate change. And of course enjoy some Margaritas... Hope you can make it!
Those of us who live in low-lying places like Dhaka, New York City or Dresden know what a storm surge looks like: subways flooding, houses washed away, people left homeless, and disrupted lives and livelihoods. Hurricane Sandy alone, fueled by Atlantic Ocean waters that were 5 degrees warmer than normal, cause over $60 billion in destruction, and left tens of thousands homeless. A new report from CoreLogic details how 16 cities on the East and Gulf coasts of the US might fare with sea-level rise and climate-fueled storm surges. The numbers are staggering. All told, 4.2 million homes are at risk of storm surges in these areas, which represents about $1.1 trillion of property. The likelihood of these kinds of dangerous and costly surges is intensified by sea-level rise, as represented by the blue maps. For those that say the costs of transitioning to clean energy are too onerous, these maps and the background data help paint a picture of the costs of inaction. You can pick up a copy of the CoreLogic report here.
I've seen Bill McKibben speak quite a few times, but today was something special. Speaking at the National Press Club, in Canberra, Australia, Bill delivered what a friend who was also listening called a "flawless" speech. It was something special that is for sure. Here it is in full. Tomorrow we are off to Melbourne and to another packed out theatre of 800+ people. You can follow our progress on Twitter: @350Australia #DotheMaths and on Facebook here.
Speech to the National Press Club, Canberra, Author and co-founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben
To my foreigner’s eye, there is a profound and interesting disconnection between the way that Australians view their fossil fuel resources, and the way that physics views those same deposits. This disconnection spells bad news for the planet, and perhaps also for the Australian economy, as it seems likely to lead to a series of bets that go disastrously wrong. My hope is that Australia might gain a more clear-eyed view of the future, seeing it more through the eyes of physics as it were, in hopes of charting a sounder course. A course that would, inevitably, require keeping most identified coal, gas and oil deposits safely underground.
Australia has vast fossil fuel deposits, some of the largest known on the planet; the most important are probably the coal beds. To Australians, and especially to the very wealthy men and women who own those holdings, these are the source of future wealth—enough wealth to allow you to build a whole fleet of replica Titanics, say. And so the plans are on for the rapid expansion of mine, rail, and port necessary to dig that coal and send it abroad to be burned.
But if that coal is ever burned, it will make it impossible for the planet to reach its stated climate goals—quite specific goals that the Australian govt. has solemnly signed to support. In particular, this country, like virtually all of the world’s nations, has pledged that it will not allow the planet’s temperatures to increase more than two degrees—that undertaking was signed at Copenhagen, the only result of that otherwise failed conference, but it’s also the stated policy of the G-20 and the G-8.
This is not, by the way, a very good target for which to be aiming. Climate scientists are alarmed by the damage that’s already been done by slightly less than one degree of global warming—the Arctic has melted, as of last summer. The oceans are 30% more acidic. Since warm air holds more water than cold, the atmosphere is 5% warmer, loading the dice for drought and for flood. So in fact, aiming for two degrees can’t be considered wise or prudent. But since it is the only target the world’s countries have agreed to, and since even if we do most things right from this point on we will be fortunate to stop short of it, two degrees is the operative goal.
And science, helpfully, gives us a reasonable estimate of how much coal and oil and gas we can still burn with some hope of staying below that two degree line. A variety of models demonstrate that, in order to provide us with 80% odds of staying beneath that line, we can burn about 500 billion tons more carbon between now and 2050. That sounds like an impressively large amount, since a billion tons of anything is a large quantity. But we burn near 40 billion tons a year annually, and the total is still climbing—given less than a decade and a half we’ll have blown past that threshold. That’s why measures like Australia’s carbon price are so important—by slowing emissions, they give us some hope of stretching that time frame. And it has been remarkably effective, not only here where the early results are already promising, but overseas where the Chinese, the Koreans, and others have obviously picked up on this work and taken it further.
But Australia also illustrates why domestic reductions in emissions won’t, by themselves, make enough difference. There are, after all, not that many people living here. Your own emissions are relatively small compared to the emissions already coming from the coal you ship abroad—these imported emissions, as it were, are twice your domestic emissions. And the plan is now on to increase those imports—perhaps triple them.
The maths that I laid out before make clearer what this mean. If the planet has a 500-gigaton carbon budget between it and two degrees, then Australia’s coal expansion plans would produce emissions large enough to fill about a third of that atmospheric space. Let me say it again: Australia plans to prosper by using up a third of the available space in the whole planet’s atmosphere. That is neither fair nor wise. The numbers, when you actually crunch them, are astonishing: the plan to mine the Galilee Valley, for instance, would by itself produce emissions equivalent to 7% of the space the whole planet still has left to fill. 7% of the whole shooting match, from one Australian valley.
What’s interesting to me, as an outsider, is how little attention this problem seems to have gotten. As I wrote in the Monthly earlier, I was amazed to see the reaction of the newspapers when news leaked that environmentalists were, what do you know, going to try and fight those plans. Fight them legally and peacefully and civilly, but fight them nonetheless. The head of Rio Tinto called it ‘economic vandalism,’ and the head of the Australian Coal Association, Nikki Williams, spoke darkly about her ‘real concerns for safety.” But even government politicians, who had been forthright and powerful in their work on domestic emissions, joined the chorus. Wayne Swan called it “a disturbing development,” “deeply irresponsible,” and “completely irrational and destructive.” I am not naïve about the politics involved here. I come from a country where the president, though eloquently committed to fighting climate change in his rhetoric, also boasts about building more pipelines and drilling more wells than his predecessors. I understand the immense power of the fossil fuel industry, and I understand the political sensitivity of challenging that industry.
But I also understand that in the end physical reality—reality reality, you might say—outstrips political reality. We simply can’t deal with climate change if that coal gets mined, any more than if the coal of America’s Powder River Basin is mined. That’s why, unapologetically, we are fighting the infrastructure of rail and port necessary to bring those American assets to market. We can’t deal with the physics of climate if the tarsands of Canada are burned—that’s why we’ve been to jail in the so far successful attempt to slow down pipeline construction. There are perhaps a dozen pools of carbon this size around the world that simply must stay in the ground, in much the same way that we simply needed the Brazilians to keep their rainforest standing for the sake of the planet. And it is instructive to note that the Brazilians have, by and large, managed to do this despite their poverty. We need similar gestures from the rich.
In a larger sense, this underlines the fact that the fossil fuel companies have become a kind of rogue force, outlaw not against the laws of the state which they often write, but against the laws of physics. They have, financial analysts have now discovered, 2800 gigatons of carbon already in their reserves—their business plans make clear that they plan to burn it, despite the fact that, as I have said, the planet only has room for 500 gigatons. It’s not like those numbers are close—that if scientists were a little off in their estimates we’d squeak by. The industry has five times the carbon that the planet can take.
Which is one reason that, first in the States and now around the world, we’ve launched a divestment campaign to try and weaken the financial and political standing of those companies, to turn them into the next tobacco industry, though their secondhand smoke is far more lethal even than the kind that comes from cigarettes. In the US, there are already 380 college campuses with active divestment fights, and five colleges that have already divested. I was so pleased to see the powerful campaign underway at ANU, for young people—who will have to live with a degrading planet for 6 or 7 decades to come—are in the forefront of the fight. Already the Uniting Church has announced plans to divest. We’ve met with the heads of many super funds in Australia, and they know that it’s on the radar. Just today the Green party announced a drive to convince the Fund for the Future to do likewise. In the States, ten big cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, have announced divestment plans; just this morning the mayor of Portland called on the entire state of Oregon to do likewise.
One aspect of this fight is moral, of course. If it’s wrong to wreck the climate it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage—that’s why, say, the churches are involved. It makes no sense, from their point of view, to invest in companies that run Genesis backwards.
But there’s also a clear financial message here. A decision to invest in fossil fuel shares at this point is a bet that the planet will do nothing at all about climate change. If the world’s governments ever took even that small two degree target seriously, as HSBC and Citi noted in a report last month, the share values of these companies would be cut in half. We are riding a carbon bubble, and either the bubble pops or the planet pops. This is not some hobby horse of mine alone; the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, and Pricewaterhousecoopers have all issued serious reports in recent months underlining this mathematics; investing in these companies becomes a greater risk all the time.
In a larger but similar sense, it’s worth asking whether or not it makes sense to bet the Australian economy on a fossil fuel future. It’s a question that’s being asked in Canada too, which in many ways finds itself with a comparable paradox between its international commitment and its aspiration to dig up every last bit of oil and sell it abroad. Among other things, voices in the financial community there have started to ponder the question of whether it’s a blessing or a curse to be so resource-dependent. The Germans have made the opposite bet—they’re focused on the rapid expansion of renewable energy, and there were days last summer when they produced half the power they used from solar panels within their borders. I’d guess that the nations that choose to pursue 21st century technologies may do better than those who cast their lot with 18th century technology—but that’s just a guess. Watch the Chinese carefully; their appetite for carbon is diminishing. Make sure your customer base is as interested in burning coal as you are in selling it.
But I want to finish by saying that for us, we’re not mostly concerned about the economic implications—we’re concerned about the deepest moral questions that we’ve ever as a civilization faced. This is not a normal social issue where slow,, gradual transition will be enough. (It might have been enough if governments have paid attention when we started raising this issue—but it’s not any more). And so, around the world, people are raising the temperature, as it were.
In North America, in order to try and block the Keystone pipeline, we managed to organize the largest civil disobedience action in 30 years about any issue, with thousands going to jail. We may lose that fight, but so far we’ve kept them at bay for two years. That spirit is spreading far and wide; increasingly, people understand that their political leaders simply aren’t getting the job done. We simply are not going to let these things happen without a struggle—peaceful but resolute.
There is an emerging fossil fuel resistance around the world. Many of the people who comprise it are on the front lines, defending their farms and forests. Even more people are eager to defend the atmosphere—combined, these are becoming the alliances whose potential power begins to rival the financial might of the fossil fuel industry. We can’t outspend them, but we can out organize them.
And you can tell that we are making progress because the tone of the industry is changing. If you listen to, say, Ms. Williams of the Australian Coal Association, she doesn’t sound cool and confident; she sounds increasingly harried. Earlier this week on Q and A, Sen. Bernardi said that our call for divestment from fossil fuel companies was “madness.” But in fact the madness lies in business as usual. Madness comes in listening to the loud warnings of scientists and then doing precisely the opposite. Building new coal mines, at this point in human history, is as mad as listening to the doctor tell you your cholesterol is too high and then eating a stick of butter. The louder the industry and its hired guns shout, the clearer the weakness of their intellectual position.
In fact, let me go a little further. This country seems about ready to elect a government that styles itself conservative and cautious. The coal industry insists that its opponents are radical. But there is nothing radical about what we’re asking for—we’d like merely a world that works a bit like the one we were born into, when rivers actually flowed to the sea, when the hundred year storm didn’t come every other season. Those are actually conservative demands. Radicals work at coal companies. If you’re willing to fund your desire for replica Titanics by altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere, then you’re a radical on a scale that would make any 60s hippie blush. In the environmental community we take it as our job to stand up to that radicalism. We’re going to do it firmly, and I think we’re increasingly going to win.
Bill McKibben is a kinda big deal here in Australia. Big enough that this morning we woke up to find him cartooned into the Canberra Times.
There's two pieces of context you might like with that: 1. The student is the Premier of Queensland State, Campbell Newman, who is pushing coal extraction like crazy. 2. The Gonski reference is to the Gonski report, which the Government commissioned to review the education system in Australia.
The Do the Maths tour of Australia is now well underway and with Sydney under our belts we're part way through our stop in the nation’s capital Canberra. It really is hard to keep up with things, but here's a bit of what has gone on.
Within hours of touching down in Sydney, Bill underwent an Australian baptism by fire, being a panelist on the live to air show Q & A. Despite being dropped straight in the middle of a foreign culture and a few unsavoury characters Bill easily stood his ground and impressed the audience, both in studio and watching from home, with his depth of knowledge and clear message about the climate challenge. In essence he mopped the floor with them. If you want to see grown men squirm, here is the link http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3759900.htm.
The next day a Bill found himself on another panel, but this time talking to a hundred plus financiers from Sydney and Melbourne. After presenting the ‘maths’ a lively debate ensued about the possibilities for and limits to divestment and what the carbon bubble means for investors. Changing tack completely the next stop was to meet with the head of the Uniting Church of NSW and ACT, to say a big thank you for being the first church in the world to divest their portfolio of fossil fuel holdings. After a quick prayer it was time to move on to the main event of the day the presentation at the Seymour Centre, University of Sydney - which you can see in this picture here was packed out!
Here is a take on the evening from a member of the audience, Georgia Bamber.
"If ticket sales, packed seats and a rapt audience are anything to go by, Bill McKibben’s first show in Australia was a roaring success. The Seymour centre was abuzz with anticipation at 6pm, amazing in light of the fact that we were all there to essentially hear a maths lesson.
Despite claims of jetlag Bill was fantastic. Relaxed and personal, he immediately won the audience over with his charm, intelligence and above all his passion.
His message to the audience was clear and simple:- If the Australian mining industry is allowed to proceed with the massive expansion of coal mining and export that they have planned, the planet will be pushed to warming beyond the point of no return. End of story, no wiggle room. The laws of physics says it is so.
However gloom and doom about the plight we are in was quickly dispelled as Bill invited young members from Lock the Campus and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition onto the stage to demonstrate his maths - using beer. After giggles from the audience and a few sips of beer by Bill, and the Lord Mayor of Sydney, everyone was ready to hear the plan of action. Divestment, direct action, and perhaps even a little gaol time for a few.
The way Bill connected with the audience was incredible. He not only educated the audience but he fired them up and made them feel empowered. I know I walked away from the evening ready to fight the good fight, and I am pretty sure most everybody else did too.
Thank you Bill for saying what needs to be said."
We founded 350.org on the idea that all of our individual struggles to protect our planet, acheive environmental justice, and stop climate change were connected. Whether you're working to stop the tar sands in Canada, protect the Amazon in Brazil, block a coal export facility in Australia, or promote distributed solar power in China, you're part of a global movement. Climate change is the ultimate global issue, no matter where carbon dioxide goes in to the air it has the same warming effect on our atmosphere. And to solve it, we're going to need the ultimate global movement.
That's why it's so exciting to see new films like Elemental connect the dots between different struggles around the globe.
Here's a description of the film from its website:
Elemental tells the story of three individuals united by their deep connection with nature and driven to confront some of the most pressing ecological challenges of our time. The film follows Rajendra Singh, an Indian government official gone rogue, on a 40-day pilgrimage down India’s once pristine Ganges river, now polluted and dying. Facing community opposition and personal doubts, Singh works to shut down factories, halt construction of dams, and rouse the Indian public to treat their sacred “Mother Ganga” with respect. Across the globe in northern Canada, Eriel Deranger mounts her own “David and Goliath” struggle against the world’s largest industrial development, the Tar Sands, an oil deposit larger than the state of Florida. A young mother and native Denè, Deranger struggles with family challenges while campaigning tirelessly against the Tar Sands and its proposed 2,000-mile Keystone XL Pipeline, which are destroying Indigenous communities and threatening an entire continent.
And in Australia, inventor and entrepreneur Jay Harman searches for investors willing to risk millions on his conviction that nature’s own systems hold the key to our world’s ecological problems. Harman finds his inspiration in the natural world’s profound architecture and creates a revolutionary device that he believes can slow down global warming, but will it work?
Separated by continents yet sharing an unwavering commitment to protecting nature, the characters in this story are complex, flawed, postmodern heroes for whom stemming the tide of environmental destruction fades in and out of view – part mirage, part miracle.
This post was written by Dylan Amlin, a member of the Chicago Youth Climate Coalition, and the leader of the RU Fossil Free divestment campaign at Roosevelt University
Yesterday afternoon, hundreds of activists gathered outside the Chicago Hilton, where President Obama and other key political leaders attended a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. As a part of an international campaign against the Keystone XL Pipeline, we were there as a reminder that our movement will not back down on this issue—that the president’s decision on KXL could determine the fate of our climate and our future. Attendees represented a number of groups, including Chicago Youth Climate Coalition, 350.org, #IDLENOMORE, Sierra Club, CREDO, Chicago 350, Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, and many more.
As a student at Roosevelt University, and a member of the Chicago Youth Climate Coalition, I attended the first Chicago birddogging rally at Argonne Laboratory. It was inspiring to see many of the same faces, but even better to experience the growth of this movement.
Despite not having a megaphone for the first portion of the rally, our group quickly swelled into chants like “We are unstoppable, another world is possible”. I was encouraged to meet with so many young people—from high school through grad school—who were trying to get more involved. Many older people found an outlet in Chicago 350, which has its first meeting today!
It was great to meet with students working on fossil fuel divestment campaigns across the country. Divestment has become a common thread among student leaders. By challenging our colleges and universities to end their profit from the destruction of our planet, we prepare ourselves to challenge the economic and political forces that will wreck our climate.
We chanted for over an hour before the arrival of Obama’s caravan. While it can be discouraging to only have a few seconds to feel like you’re really reaching Obama, the true power of these rallies is in meeting with people that know that we don’t have a choice. At each event, I become more confident that there is community that is ready to stop tar sands extraction at any cost.
After the passing of Obama’s caravan, we finished strong with a march around 3 city blocks. Whether Obama saw our march or not, whether mainstream media covered our story or not, we made it clear that we’d be back again. It was good to know that millions around the world were willing to do the same.
The rally was an excellent kick-off for a summer of action in Chicago.
Chicago 350.org will be launching a city-wide divestment campaign, and is sure to aid in other fights as well.
Keystone XL protestors were joined by groups like Immigrant Youth Justice League and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, who were calling on Obama to stop the deportation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented people every year.. While we were happy that our groups weren’t in conflict, it would have been great to build a stronger connection between our causes. Many members of CYCC were inspired by a speech by Aura Bogado at the Swarthmore Divestment Convergence this February, in which she explained immigrant rights as a facet of the climate justice movement.
Gianna Chacon, a sophomore (and bad-ass campus leader) at Roosevelt University, will be working with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) this summer through a 350 fossil-free fellowship. “LVEJO works on building a connection between the Hispanic community and the environmental movement through outreach and organization" she said. "I got into to the environmental movement out of a realization that refineries and other causes of pollution were located in low-income and minority communities, the very communities that are denied a voice. To stop climate change, we as a movement must be inclusive and work with the communities that face the direct consequences of environmental damage.”
In addition to building a more inclusive movement, CYCC plans to work with groups across Illinois to keep fracking out of our state. Recent action by grassroots groups in Springfield demonstrates the need for strong and unwavering resistance. Just as in the fight against Keystone XL, we have no room for compromise.
We’ll also be working this summer with several urban agriculture and community groups. As we continue to build resistance against fossil fuel extraction, we must also create resilient communities and foster a city independent from fossil fuels.
Just yesterday, Bill McKibben was announced as this year's recipient of the Sophie Prize for his work in "building a social movement to preserve a sustainable planet." In receiving it, he joins the ranks of legends like Wangari Maathai, James Hansen, and Sheila Watt Cloutier. Meanwhile, Bill is about to start a two week tour of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, bringing his Do the Maths message Downunder. Before he even lands in Australia, the Australian Coal Association has come out biting at his ankles...
"Foreigners coming to Australia to campaign against our national economy can do a lot of damage if their claims go unchallenged" - wrote the Australian Coal Association (ACA) in The Australian last month, attacking Bill McKibben in advance of his Do the Maths Australia tour.
The tour begins on Monday, and the ACA is doing its best to discredit and rubbish Bill McKibben, but they're nervous and full of bumbling attacks. Just last week, their CEO, Nikki Williams gave an address here in Sydney in which she took aim at activists who are challenging the might of the coal industry. She took particular aim at Bill for calling the Australian coalmining industry a 'rogue industry', saying "This sinful image is widely promoted by the self-styled planetary saints. The authors of such views are rarely seriously questioned about how they arrived at the view or whether the ‘facts upon which they rely’ are facts at all."
It's standard issue communications practice of the fossil fuel industry - discredit and make the oppostion sound unthruthful, and then over-inflate their own importance (for another example of William's bumbling efforts to discredit Bill, see the bottom of this article).
Last week Bill gave a taste of his upcoming tour on a live cross to the ABC's Lateline show. He also crushed arguments laid out by climate deniers. Well worth a watch - just click here.
In that interview, Bill gave some insight into our plans for bringing divestment campaigning to Australia. Although it has to be said that The Guardian did an even better job in announcing our plans for divestment campaign in this article. So things are hotting up here in Australia, and with many of the venues nearly sold out for Bill's Australia tour, you'll want to get in quick to get a slice of the action! For more info and tickets, visit maths.350.org/australia
The second stop on Bill's tour is New Zealand, where the movement there is fighting against the government initiated proliferation of fossil fuel extraction. As Bill said, "New Zealand needs to decide whose company it wants to keep. Those countries like Germany that are moving fast to chart a new course in renewable energy, or those countries like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia that are reckoning they can keep the dirty years going a little longer".
Internationally, New Zealand has a reputation as a clean and green sort of a place, but the current government is enacting policy after policy that is tearing that reputation to shreds. So it is only natural that during Bill's tour, we're launching divestment campaigning in New Zealand and upping the pressure for the government to halt it's fossil fuel obsession.
To find out more about the New Zealand tour and book tickets, visit maths.350.org/nz
The third and final stop of the tour is Fiji, where Bill will be sailing on the magnificient Uto Ni Yalo (a tradtional Fijian style voyaging vessel) out to climate impacted areas, and then delivering a talk in Suva, with a focus on the role of the Pacific Islands in taking on climate change. More details will be coming about that shortly.
With that, it's onwards we go in the new frontiers of divestment and maths!
Here's another example of the bumbling attack on activists from Nikki Williams:
"Let’s be clear. Greenhouse gases from burning coal are a problem. I simply point out some obvious truths: coal is being used and will continue to be used to drag hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. So, stopping Australia’s coal exports is a sham response, perhaps even a shameful response, if you are really concerned about global warming because if we don’t have a solution for coal use – particularly in China and India - we don’t have a solution to climate change. This incontrovertible fact is recognised by every major entity including the World Bank, the IEA and the IPCC."
Don't worry if you don't follow the logic in that statement. I don't either!
O filme retrata a jornada que Bill McKibben e a 350.org fizeram por todo os EUA, levando a "conta" climática para cada parte do país e, com isso, lançando a campanha pelo fim de investimentos em combustíveis fósseis. É um filme emocionante e inspirador sobre o movimento climático emergente. Exibições públicas e gratuitas do Do the Math programadas no Brasil nos próximos dias: São Paulo, 16/5, 18h: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film/5545 João Pessoa, 16/5, 19h: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film/5507 Belo Horizonte, 16/5, 20h: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film/5294 Porto Alegre, 16/5, 20h: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film/5639 Salvador, 18/5, 9h: https://www.facebook.com/events/144516732402408/ São Paulo, 21/5, 20h: https://www.facebook.com/events/134355703424192/ Manaus, 23/5, 18h15: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film_attend_pt/5162 Porto Alegre, 31/5, 19h: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film/5426 Limeira, 4/6, 19h: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film/5069 Florianópolis, 5/6, 17h: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film/5625 Para organizar sua exibição: http://act.350.org/event/do_the_math_film_create_pt/create/
A letter from Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Winona LaDuke, Sandra Steingraber, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood
For the last two years, all across the country, people have said the same thing to us: “We’re ready to fight.”
And as the planet lurches past 400 parts per million concentrations of CO2, the moment has come, the moment to ask you to do hard, important, powerful things. The last two weeks of July are, statistically, the hottest stretch of the year. This year we want to make them politically hot too. Which means we need you, out on the front line. We need some of you to risk going to jail, and all of you to show up and speak out. And since it’s a hard thing to ask, this letter is going to be a little longer than usual. (If you want to cut to the chase, though, the list of actions can be found here.)
We’re calling this next phase of the fight “Summer Heat.” Over the course of the final weeks of July, from the Pacific Northwest to the coast of Maine, from the Keystone pipeline route to the White House where the administration has broken its promise to put solar on the roof, to the Utah desert where they’re getting ready for the first tar sands mine in the US, we’re going to try and get across the essential message: it’s time to stand up – peacefully but firmly — to the industry that is wrecking our future. Click here to make your stand: joinsummerheat.org/map
We believe that mass action can breathe life into even the most hardened political fights, and so these actions will all aim to bring together thousands of people to stand together -- perhaps sometimes on the wrong side of the law.
For people on the front lines of fossil fuel extraction, these fights are often, properly, about the local immediate impacts. And now all of us us, even those fortunate enough to live without that daily trauma, need to add the weight of our anger and hope as well. It’s one big fight. Front-line communities need and deserve reinforcements, pouring in to help the people who have been carrying these struggles as they begin to impact us all.
It won’t be just July, of course. In June friends are organizing “Fearless Summer” protests at mining and drilling sites around the country. In Canada, First Nations connected to the Idle No More movement are hatching plans for a "Sovereignty Summer" which could see“coordinated nonviolent direct actions” on Indigenous lands that are in the midst of fierce anti-extraction battles. meanwhile, our colleagues at CREDO continue to collect names pledged to civil disobedience should Keystone XL move forward. But Summer Heat will be a powerful focus -- a chance for thousands of us to show the courage we need to lower the temperature.
We’ve got to go on offense elsewhere, and in the last few months young people have been showing us how. The rapid spread of the divestment movement across college campuses should provide courage to everyone: we got goose bumps when the students at Rhode Island School of Design, occupying their president’s office last week to demand divestment, lowered a banner out the window: “We May Be Art Students, But We Can Still do the Math.”
Look - this movement isn't made up of professional protesters. For the most part, it's students, teachers, retired people, civil servants, farmers, businesswomen, fisher folk, artists, mailmen, ministers. It's people whose homes were demolished by Hurricane Sandy, or who just had an oil pipeline burst in their backyard.
Just the other day Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson went on TV and declared: “My philosophy is to make money.” And he lives that philosophy by compromising the future of the earth. And so those of us who have a more complicated philosophy need to stand up. We can’t outspend him, but we have other currencies to work in: passion, creativity, spirit. And sometimes we have to spend our bodies.
Here’s how it works. This is a list of the actions planned so far. A few more may be added in the weeks ahead as we keep working with allies. Find the one nearest you. Start making plans to show up. Be there when the time comes.
We’ll have people there to train for the actions — in every case there will be options for people who don’t want to risk arrest, but if you’re ready to take it to the next level, there will be lawyers and such on hand to help. This will be peaceful, dignified, but firm. We’re serious.
Our hope is that this summer will be a historic show of solidarity not just with the Americans who suffer most from the fossil fuel industry, but with the people across the planet whose lives are at risk as the world warms — and indeed with the planet itself, beleaguered but still so worth fighting for.
If you weren't needed, we wouldn't ask. But in a fight this big, we are all needed, now more than ever.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood
For the first time, NOAA's Mauna Loa observatory recorded an average daily CO2 concentration above 400 parts per million. Globally, we're not yet at annual averages above 400, but this is indeed an important milestone. We've created 400.350.org to reflect on what this means, and talk about what we're doing to cool the planet.
Please take a moment to read and share.
This guest post was written by Marissa Mommaerts. Marissa is the Communications Manager at Transition US, the national hub of an international network of communities transitioning away from fossil fuels toward sustainable, local economies.Transition Challenge. Organized by Transition US, the Transition Challenge is an opportunity to get your hands dirty, create something beautiful, and be counted as part of a bigger movement toward community resilience in the face of climate change and peak oil. Last year, in partnership with California-based Daily Acts, Transition US registered over 4,000 actions in communities across the country. Folks picked up their shovels and tools, helped construct rainwater harvesting systems, and installed solar panels. Abandoned lots were converted into green oases and school children pulled weeds and planted tomato starts. When these individual actions occur on a large scale, they energize and engage our communities and show the world it is possible to survive and thrive without relying on fossil fuels. To participate in this year's challenge, you can create your own project or volunteer on a community project in one of four areas: food, water, energy, and community. Transition US has plenty of ideas and how-to guides listed on their website, but the sky is the limit. Whether your “something beautiful” takes the form of a community garden, a compost pile, or even a graywater system, it brings us one step closer to a healthy, resilient planet. Make sure to register your project to be counted, and feel free to send updates and photos to the TUS team to share and inspire others with your ideas!
This guest post was written by Ray Friedlander or the Sitka Conservation Society.Alaska’s identity has been drilled into oil, and with the recent passage of Senate Bill 21 or the “Oil Wealth Giveaway Bill,” the state plans to subsidize this identity through billion dollar tax breaks to the world’s most profitable corporations at a huge financial loss to the climate, the state, and its citizens over the next several years. Despite this statewide decision, the costal Alaskan town of Sitka has been approaching its energy needs differently. Sitka is committed to resiliency, the ability to bounce back or rise from the ashes of challenge regardless of what that challenge may be. With climate change being the most urgent challenge of the century, the city of Sitka recognizes that having multiple ways to meet our energy needs makes us and the Earth more resilient. For the climate change movement to be resilient, educational opportunities and public awareness are necessary parts. The Sitka Conservation Society, the local environmental non-profit in Sitka, hosted a showing of 350.org’s “Do the Math.” Showing this national film got 22 community members together to relate the impacts of local level issues like Senate Bill 21 to climate change and discuss how the community could contribute solutions to the world’s most urgent challenge rather than continue to look past it. The showing of “Do the Math” came right after a statewide protest against Senate Bill 21. About 75 people, including the mayor of the City and Borough of Sitka, demonstrated that there are other ways to approach the state’s energy needs that wouldn’t require subsidizing the most profitable corporations in the world at the expense of public infrastructure and the climate. “The Senators that voted for passage of SB21 are gambling with our future. They are willing to forever adversely impact our children, citizens that are in need of health care, crimes that need to be solved, and so many other facets of daily lives in every community around the state. And this is coming at a time when our community is staggering from the blows of the federal sequestration. We need help now, not tomorrow,” said Mayor McConnell at the rally. That “help now” can start from your very community. Sitka is not waiting for the larger federal government or corporations to catch up to sustainable energy practices—we are making case studies for climate change activism and low cost renewable energy. We are rallying 75 strong to protest bills like the Oil Tax Giveaway. We are hosting films like “Do the Math” to generate conversational energy about what our town can do in the climate change movement--all of this from a rural town of 8 to 9,000 people. When applied to energy needs, resiliency reminds us not to just focus on unearthing fossil fuel energy but see it as one of many options needed to live responsibly. Sitka is working towards an identity independent of oil, an identity of resiliency that rises from the ashes of fossil fuel dependency rather than continue to use those very ashes as our only power source.
Over 50 events are planned on college campuses across the country today to highlight the growing fossil fuel divestment movement that has spread to more than 300 colleges and universities over the last semester.
One of the day's largest events will take place at San Francisco City Hall, where students from across the city will rally with 350.org founder Bill McKibben and city supervisors who recently voted unanimously to push the city’s pension fund to divest $583 million from the fossil fuel industry. San Francisco was inspired to work towards divestment because of the student movement -- now, they're helping students push their universities to divest!
Other events include students at Colorado College camping out on campus to call for divestment, students at Northern Arizona University dropping a big banner over a campus building, students at Cornell University hosting a die-in to symbolize the human cost of climate change, and students at Wellesley College meeting with their boards of trustees to push for divestment.
Based on the anti-apartheid divestment campaigns of the 1980s, the current fossil fuel divestment effort has spread to over 300 colleges and universities in the last six months. Four colleges, Sterling, Unity, Hampshire, and College of the Atlantic have committed to divest their endowments. Students have met with their boards of trustees to push for divestment on over 50 campuses and passed student body resolutions supporting the move on more than 30 campuses. More board meetings are scheduled for the coming weeks.
The action on campus has sparked some incredible progress off-campus, as well. Last week, 9 mayors across the country joined San Francisco and Seattle to announce that they would be pursuing fossil fuel divestment. The cities include: Eugene, OR, Berkeley, CA, Richmond, CA, Boulder, CO, Santa Fe, NM, Bayfield, WI, Madison, WI, Ithaca, NY, and State College, PA. There is still much more work to do: each of these cities will need to follow through with their commitment to keep their city funds out of fossil fuels and push their state pension funds to fully divest, but these Mayoral commitments are a great start, it shows that the divestment campaign is beginning to gain the political support we need to make a real impact.
We'll be sharing photos and updates from the #FossilFree Day of Action throughout the day today. Make sure to follow the hashtag on Twitter for breaking news from around the country.
A new report released today by Market Forces and 350.org Australia shows how Australia’s ‘big four’ banks, supported by international investors, are literally Financing Reef Destruction.
The report makes it clear that the ‘big four’ Australian banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac – play a critical role in enabling major fossil fuel projects. Combined, these banks lent $3.8 billion to coal ports and LNG terminals in the Great Barrier Reef Word Heritage Area since January 2008.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef literally sits in the way of the fossil fuel industry and its massive expansion plans. Of the many new coal terminals planned just one port, Abbot Point, near Mackay, could increase almost nine-fold in capacity to become by far the biggest coal export port ever in the world.
350.org Australia and Market Forces are calling on customers of those banks to tell them to stop financing reef destruction or they will pull out their funds and go elsewhere.
Bill McKibben, coming to Australia in June for a “Global Warming: Do the Maths” tour, said “When you do the maths on avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, there simply isn’t enough room in the carbon budget for new fossil fuel projects.
“We’ve got to wind down the fossil fuel era with great haste if we’re going to keep the planet from overheating,” McKibben said. “This report provides Australians with the information they need to make hard decisions about where their money is invested and if it’s helping or destroying the planet.”
Just over a week ago here in Australia, the Uniting Church of New South Wales and ACT made the bold pledge to divest it's investment funds from the fossil fuel industry, directing them into renewable energy instead. It made headlines, and is the start of a coming wave of divestment campaigning in Australia. Justin Whelan, Mission Development Manager at Paddington Uniting Church explains how they got the Church Synod to make the decision - and one that was made by consensus!
There is an etiquette in the church that we don't clap resolutions when they pass, but this time excitement got the better of too many people. A wave of applause broke out. Was it only in this moment that people realised the significance of what we had done? Or was this the bursting dam, a community waiting a long time for a little nudge to help them be the radical, prophetic people they want to be?
For those of us who brought the divestment proposal to the 400-member council meeting (known as a 'Synod meeting') of the Uniting Church in New South Wales and the ACT, there was relief to go with the excitement. We had been negotiating with key leaders over the first three days of the meeting, soothing concerns and making small amendments as needed. The ethical investment managers had legitimate operational concerns, and by working with them they were addressed.
Another key leader, whom we had pegged as an ally, told us he would oppose it in the strongest terms. A long conversation ensued about theories of social change and comparisons with other campaigns he is passionate about. At the time we thought we hadn't convinced him but when the public debate came, he too supported the resolution with a minor change: he wanted to add to the decision!
So now we have committed to investing in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, and a communications strategy will be devised by 'head office' staff to encourage and support individual members taking their own action, such as moving their superannuation (pension) funds to ethical investors.
All this by consensus. Our church’s decision making process was a potential problem but in the end we need not have feared. This proposal followed a string of resolutions about the environment and climate change over the last two decades. The church has been an outspoken advocate for climate action for at least ten years. At the same meeting we heard from farming communities being ‘fractured’ by the coal seam gas industry, and passed a resolution calling for the protection of valuable land and water resources. The divestment proposal was both an effective way to dramatically ramp up that advocacy, as well as putting our money where our mouth is. In this context, “we refuse to profit from destroying the earth” was a pretty easy message to sell.
If anyone was in doubt about the significance of the Synod's decision, the media interest will have set them right pretty quickly. With nothing more than a media release, our resolution achieved national print and radio news coverage, a string of interviews and a social media storm (thanks 350.org for helping with that!). One journalist asked me whether I really thought this would have any impact - whether anyone would care what the church does with its money. I felt like saying "well, you called me, didn't you?"
There are still questions of implementation for the investment managers to consider, and we are starting to get some backlash from coal mining companies that give grants to church-run community services. In Australia, the resource sector is so significant to the economy that it was inevitable that even churches find themselves enmeshed in it. These are challenges we all face as communities living in the world as it is now. These are challenges we must all face head-on if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The Uniting Church in NSW-ACT has had an ethical investment policy for about 30 years, making it something of a world leader in that regard. We already refuse to invest in the tobacco, armaments, uranium mining and gambling industries, as well as companies with poor records on human rights, working conditions, and so on.
Now fossil fuel companies have been added to that list. For some this link to other toxic industries was a cognitive breakthrough: we weren't saying they were 'bad' companies, we were saying their once vital business has become a threat to human and ecological life.
As Bill McKibben says, and we emphasised, "there is no flaw in their business plan. The flaw is their business plan."
Justin Whelan, from the Uniting Earthweb Group
You can read more about the church’s divestment decision here.
This incredible quilt was made by Louthea in California, USA, who has been a 350.org member for the last two years. We encourage all kinds of artwork to carry the 350 message, but we've never had a quilt submitted to us before! Many thanks to everyone who helps us get the message out- and a special thanks to Louthea, for spending many, many hours on such a stunning piece of work.
While the momentum of the Fossil Fuel Resistance Movement has grown from strength to strength across the United States, it's worth noting that a similar sort of momentum is now brewing across Australia.
Just four months into the year and we’ve already seen many climate wins here.
In Newcastle activists successfully stopped the expansion of the world’s largest coal port, in WA plans to build a gas hub on James Price Point were withdrawn and companies have been pulling out of coal seam gas operations across New South Wales.
There’s been even more this month. Just last week the Uniting Church of New South Wales and ACT announced it was divesting from the fossil fuel industry and in the middle of the month the small town of Bulga in the Hunter Valley won its court appeal to block a new coal mine. On Wednesday six Greenpeace activists climbed aboard a coal ship on the way to South Korea to demand a stop to our coal exports.
There's a fantastic groundswell building, and now through Bill McKibben’s Do the Maths Australia tour in June, we’ll be launching a new wave of campaigning to divest Australia from the coal industry, and to do our part to bring on the global age of renewable energy. Naturally, this has started to get the coal industry worried.
On Wednesday the Australian Coal Association, writing in The Australian, took aim at 350.org and Bill McKibben, saying “Foreigners coming to Australia to campaign against our national economy can do a lot of damage if their claims go unchallenged.”
They also said a lot of other self-inflating and misleading things in that article. One thing's for sure: in the coming months they will be working their spin doctors hard. We’ve got a fight on our hands, and we need to be one step ahead.
350.org Australia is throwing everything we’ve got into this fight, and so we're reaching out for help now. Can you help us ensure Bill McKibben's Do the Maths tour helps wake Australia up to the battle we are facing -- taking on the fossil fuel industry to ensure we all have a safe climate future?
Chip in now to our Start Some Good campaign here, which will enable us to rise to the challenge.
Let's get ready.
Joe Nocera of the New York Times is back with another column in support of Keystone XL. I counted 4 errors or willful oversights in Nocera's piece, although I'm sure I missed some. Let's review.
1. Speaking about KXL's importance: "Energy independence is a long-sought national goal. We would no longer need OPEC, a cartel of countries with values, in many cases, antithetical to ours."
First, it remains unclear how "energy independence" can be achieved by continuing our reliance on fossil fuels and the corporations that supply them. Exxon made $45 billion last year; its CEO Rex Tillerson made $100,000 a day by supplying our fossil fuel addiction. If Joe wants to keep lining their pockets and strengthening their grip over our democracy that's his deal, but you can't argue in favor of independence if you want to keep a supplier from whom you can't shake loose. Second, no one that I know of seriously thinks that the Keystone XL export pipeline would lead to us no longer needing OPEC. The only way to do that is to drop Big Oil and petro states once and for all. And the only way to do that is to get serious about green energy, which Nocera treats like a punch line. I wonder if they are laughing in Iowa now that they are getting 25% of their electricity from wind?
2. "That oil is coming here anyway -- by rail and boat, where spills are common, and via pipelines that are older, and hence less safe, than Keystone would be."
On spills, one word: Arkansas. Oh, and every major export pipeline in Canada is under heavy scrutiny and suffers from huge public opposition. Even under the most rosy scenarios, none of these pipelines will be built any time soon. In fact, Alberta is so nervous about the pipeline proposals being blocked that it recently started looking into the possibility of exporting oil all the way up at the port at Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., a.k.a way the heck up there. On the rail question, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told Reuters yesterday, "It (rail) is a good supplement but not the longer-term solution...I don't think anybody would suggest it is." He doesn't know Joe Nocera!
3. "Notwithstanding the development of alternative energy sources, the world is going to continue to need oil; Oliver, quoting the International Energy Agency, says that global energy demand is expected to grow by at least 35 percent over the next 20 years."
Nope, enviros don't think that pixie dust will fuel our cars any time soon. But the US is using less oil this year than we did last year, and less oil last year than the year before that. The question is do we want to lock in 40-50 years of oil addiction with Keystone or get serious about dropping fossil fuels once and for all?
Also, while Nocera quotes from the IEA, he neglects to mention that the IEA also said that we need to leave a full 2/3s of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we are to avoid runaway climate change. It would be funny how he leaves that part out of IEA's findings if climate change was funny at all.
4. "The notion, pushed by environmentalists, that blocking the oil sands will spur green energy is delusion."
Nope, don't know anyone who says that. Not a one. Think that's called a straw man argument. Anyway, what enviros say is that committing to more oil reduces incentives to invest in green energy. I think it's called supply and demand. Not sure, but Nocera is a business columnist. Maybe he can tell me.