Campaigns in the US Fossil Fuel Divestment movement have been working hard for almost two years now. Through building power on campus and negotiating with administrators, campaigns have built strong foundations – even when told ‘no’ on divestment.
No. It means we are just getting to the good stuff. Public ‘no’s from major universities have done nothing but drive the conversation more and more in the media, and help activists dig in deep for the long haul fight of climate justice organizing.
The good stuff:
1. Discover new opportunities. Coming back from a ‘no’ requires you to dig deeper, strengthen existing relationships, and build a more diverse coalition. As you become more grounded in the realities and intersections of your campus and community, new opportunities to collaborate will emerge.
2. Give ourselves the permission to escalate. We can create a strategy built on bold actions that demonstrate our power and pull specific decisionmakers back to a point of decision and advance the campaign.
3. Create the public narrative the divestment movement is seeking. Good stories have compelling ‘choice points’ – and this is ours. We can choose to walk away – or we can choose to reveal the deep-seeded, and often hidden, power the fossil fuel industry has over our institutions, elected officials, and communities. Add in reports like the IPCC Impacts document – and we are proving that we have both credibility and momentum on our side.
4. Build Power through Secondary Victories. A ‘no’ forces us to be more creative with our organizing strategy. Check out Chloe’s piece on what happened at Harvard today: Harvard became the first higher education institution in the US to join the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. They also signed onto the Carbon Disclosure Project, and (yes, there’s more) created a Climate Change Solutions Fund to invest in renewable energy technologies. Harvard is giving $1 million to the fund this fall, and they’re raising an additional $19 million.
Harvard is recognizing that their investments do have an impact…but still investing millions in climate destruction as we take these productive steps forward. So here’s Divest Harvard’s response: http://divestharvard.com/divest-harvards-response-to-harvards-plan-to-confront-climate-change/. These secondary victories build momentum and power as we ramp up to bigger and bolder asks.