By Katie McChesney
Last spring, we watched as fossil fuel divestment organizers across the country took unwavering action catapulting the movement to new heights. Four years ago, as the movement was first picking up steam, student campaigners were faced with their first experience of rejection from college and university administrations. Decision makers from Middlebury to Harvard gave a resounding “nope” to student’s demand for fossil fuel divestment. Back then, today’s reality of mass escalation, successive victories, and a movement whose influence has been felt across the globe was merely a fantasy in our movement daydreams.
But as nonviolent direct actions rolled out on campuses across the country this dream, the dream of students refusing to take no for an answer and stepping into the risk we know it will take to transform our world has become a reality.
Students’, faculty, and administrators’ mounting opposition to the cooption of our institutions by the fossil fuel industry, unwavering bold action culminating in dozens of arrests, shows of solidarity from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and dozens of divestment victories from across the globe, have made it clear — fossil fuel divestment is now politically realistic.
‘No compromise’ [on valuing a just and stable future] is the new norm, and divestment victories are rolling in by the millions [millions of dollars and the millions of chanting, singing voices determined to stand on the right side of history].
The fossil fuel industry can not be affiliated with our educational institutions any longer. Fossil fuel companies have spent the last half of a century orchestrating and funding a phony debate about climate change. #ExxonKnew more than a generation ago that burning fossil fuels would cause the climate crisis, but instead of warning the world they continued with business as usual and prevented investments in just solutions.
With over 500 institutions representing more than $3.4 trillion in assets under management choosing to stand on the right side of history, we know we aren’t just winning the battles we’re fighting in our communities: we are starting to win the war.
The fossil fuel divestment movement is redefining “business as usual.”
As we enter into a new year of on-campus divestment organizing, here are five ways you can join in and take your campaign to the next level:
2.Speak to the people. Tell your story, tell the story of the movement, and tell your campaign’s story.
3.Claim victory. Believe that you have the power to win. Don’t be afraid to celebrate the growth of your campaign, the additional support, and compromises we win along the way. We are building a movement to stigmatize the fossil fuel industry, and winning full divestment is one marking of that, but not the only one ( i.e. 200 people pledging to nonviolent direct action for fossil fuel divestment is 200 more people willing to take a big risk to publicly demonstrate their distaste for the influence of the fossil fuel industry)
4.Don’t back down, we have a long road to walk. Divestment is one way that students can build a powerful climate movement on campus but it’s important to remember that we are also a part of a bigger movement for climate justice. UMASS was told “no”, and was on a path to escalate their campaign for over a year. Look at what they have been able to achieve:
5.Our action can’t stop with our campus administration. We need to fight the fossil fuel industry everywhere, including determining who is both in the White House and in local state office come 2017. #politicalrevolution