By Katie McChesney
As we embark on 2017 and look into the horizon at the fast approaching Trump inauguration, I can say with honesty that I’m not feeling excited or inspired by what this year will bring. To better prepare myself for the fight ahead, I sat down to do some reflection: What has our movement accomplished? What role did I play? Where do we go from here?
What I realized is that amidst all of the scary unknowns of the future and the hard realities that presented themselves this past year, the divestment movement accomplished so much in 2016. Here are just a few of our major movement moments:
1.Thousands of students took action on campuses across the country — these actions showed the world that the urgency of the climate crisis is clear to young people. Students refused to sit idly as their institutions invest in climate destruction
3. Cultural institutions took real climate leadership — The largest and most iconic US science museum, The American Museum of Natural History, cut ties with the fossil fuel industry
4. Faith community took inspiring action — From a wave of global catholic action to the landmark action by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We also saw the first, non-christian denomination divestment commitment, led by the Islamic Society of North America.
5. The movement made a political splash — Thousands of youth worked on the election, but more importantly politicians joined our political movement too. Senators, include Bernie Sanders, tweeted and added their voice supporting student and institutional action.
6. Canadian divestment organizers took bold action on Parliament Hill — During the Climate 101 action, young people made it clear that if Justin Trudeau approves pipelines, he loses the millennial vote.
7. The global divestment movement doubled in size — 5 trillion dollars in assets committed to divest, enough said… because that’s a lot of money and a lot of action.
8. The Divest NY campaign ramped up and saw some wins — Cooperstown, NY committed to divest, making it the first city in the state to take action. Meanwhile, over 20 organizations, thousands of New Yorkers, and celebrities alike [including Leonardo DeCaprio and Mark Ruffalo] launched a full-scale campaign calling for action on both the city and state level.
9. Pension funds made waves — There wasn’t a whole lot of good news coming out of the nation’s capitol this year, but there was a glimmer of hope. Washington DC committed to divest its largest pension fund from the fossil fuel industry.
10. The movement responded to Trump’s hate and denial — And this only continues in 2017 as students gear up to take action in the first 100 hours of the Trump Administration. Join the call to action here!
We also saw some major landmarks for the global campaign: 657 global divestment commitments, more than 5000 media hits in English alone, and 77 countries with commitments.
All of this is to say, there is hope. We’ve organized a powerful movement already, and the stakes for inaction have just been raised. It is time that our institutions live up to their societal and moral obligation and divest — their action is more important now than ever.