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Fossil Free Fellow Reflection: Taking Action against Tar Sands in New England

Gushing about the benefits of tar sands isn’t easy, or so I realized as I struggled to come up with credulous reasons for why we should extract the toxic sludge while poisoning indigenous communities to burn a carbon intensive fuel source. Even in character as a politician corrupted by the dirty money of the oil lobby—personified by a Tar Sands Monster—it didn’t make sense to me.

But the lunacy of exploiting tar sands was exactly what this street theater intended to display. As part of my fellowship with, I was tasked with planning a rally at the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers. In addition to some behind-the-scenes legwork, I volunteered to put together some fun, visually striking street theater for the event.


New England faces an invasion of Canadian tar sands. Though South Portland recently stopped a tar sands pipeline dead in its tracks, Big Oil continues to search desperately for ways to transport its disaster-prone product. The Tar Sands Free Northeast coalition staged the rally, billed as a People’s Conference, last Sunday to highlight just how far removed the wishes of the oil industry are from the popular reality. Our politicians are beholden to us, the People, and we sent them a message loud and clear: no tar sands in New England—leave it in the ground.

Speakers from the People’s Conference recognized the destruction that tar sands extraction wreaks on the land of indigenous people and once-pristine boreal forests. Tar sands cannot be transported safely by pipeline or rail, and the inevitable spill threatens water supplies, wildlife, and local economies alike. The speakers offered myriad reasons why the tar sands must be stopped. Then came the street theater.

Brushing aside such protestations from the crowd before me, I drank from the oily Kool-Aid that the Tar Sands Monster offered me (with monetary compensation, of course) and sang the praises—however unconvincing—of viscous carbon catastrophe. The longer I spoke, the tighter the monster’s grip over me became, literally, as it tied its tentacles around me. Doing what they do best, the crowd before me organized, taking it upon themselves to cut me from the clutches of the polluting lobby. As I came to my senses and saw the will of the people, the monster withered away. Thus redeemed, I agreed to work with my constituents to ban tar sands and plan infrastructure for a clean energy future.

Our politicians in real life likewise have a chance to listen to the people over the industry and end the tar sands invasion. We’ll make sure they do.

Divest CalSTRS responds to Engagement

Jane is a retired English and Spanish middle school teacher who receives a pension from the world’s largest educator-only pension fund (and the second largest US pension system), California State Teachers Retirement System (“CalSTRS”).

A few weeks ago, Jane wrote a letter to the CEO of CalSTRS, Jack Ehnes. The letter started like this, “I am very concerned that my CalSTRS pension has holdings in the fossil fuel industry for two reasons–moral and financial.” (more…)

Kreativa aktiviteter i Almedalen

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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Copenhagen’s investments undermine green ambitions

Image: 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. (more…)