In all honesty, we’ve been looking forward to a few quiet days before the holidays. But the last few days seem like a more appropriate way to end an intense year of climate action (more on that soon). So much has happened, it’s been challenging to just keep up. Let’s take a moment to recount some of the highlights from this week and celebrate what all of us out there taking action on climate change have achieved – it’s the time of year to be jolly after all!
On SUNDAY, cracks appeared in the white marble floor at the British Museum in an artistic intervention connecting the blockbuster Scythians exhibition at the oil-sponsored museum with Siberia’s threatened permafrost. Museum visitors and 100 performers joined activist theatre group BP or not BP? in their ice-themed flashmob or ‘freezemob’.
In Paris, a People’s Tribunal put the fossil fuel industry and those that finance it on trial. People directly impacted by fossil fuel projects and the climate crisis testified to a panel of three judges that unanimously condemned the continued financial support of investments in coal, oil, gas and nuclear.
A mother from Salento, the region affected by Trans-Adriatic pipeline in Southern Italy: “We have the right to continue to live in the land that belonged to our parents and grandparents”. The @EIB decides on a 1.5 billion loan for the project Tuesday. #NotAPennyMore pic.twitter.com/w3ENOFyPTF
— 350.org Europe (@350Europe) December 10, 2017
Meanwhile in Stockholm, Divest Nobel staged a traditional Lucia procession alongside this year’s Nobel Prizes ceremony to get the Nobel Foundation to build on its divestment from nuclear weapons by ending their investments in coal, oil and gas. Solidifying its reputation for top-notch creativity and style, Divest Nobel impressed with some incredible costumes and a belting baritone!
“Lucia is a perfect occasion for our protests because she represent light during dark times. All movements need light to orient themselves, and gain the strength to carry on. The Nobel Foundation could become a beacon of hope too, if it divested from fossil fuels.” ~ Christian Tengblad, Fossil Free Sweden
MONDAY saw UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn become the 100th MP to demand their pension fund divest from fossil fuels.
We must all act to stop climate change.
On the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement, I'm proud to be the 100th MP to sign up to this #DivestParliament campaign. The UK must stick to its commitments and lead in the transition to a zero-carbon economy. pic.twitter.com/hYASJfGdW2
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) December 11, 2017
Media in France threw a spotlight on some of the dirty fossil fuel projects French institutions like the national pension fund Caisse des dépôts invests in, following a Fossil Free report revealing how French public money undermines the Paris Agreement.
— ClémenceD (@clemencejeanned) December 13, 2017
On TUESDAY, as heads of state and big investors gathered in the French capital for a summit to discuss climate finance, hundreds gathered in Paris to demand that not a penny more is spent on fossil fuels.
Representatives of the fossil fuel industry surely weren’t amused when they realised that the summit couldn’t get away with talking about climate finance while ignoring fossil fuel financing in the equation. The divestment campaign has come a long, long way!
A number of big investors used the occasion to announce cuts in funding for fossil fuels. For example, Axa, one of the world’s biggest insurance companies, publicised plans to divest €3.4bn from coal and tar sands. The World Bank pledged to no longer finance upstream oil and gas. Dutch bank ING, a big financier of coal, made it known that they will stop financing coal projects and companies by 2025. Such announcements are the result of years of grassroots campaigning.
While representatives of the European Investment Bank (EIB) at the summit in Paris pledged to align their funding with the Paris Agreement, their board members meeting in Luxembourg were all set to approve a €1.5 billion loan to a massive new gas project, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). We didn’t mind re-writing our press release, when it turned out that the bank unexpectedly dealt a massive blow to the controversial pipeline by postponing their decision on the controversial loan.
BREAKING: Everyone that has been demanding through letters, tweets & actions that the @EIB votes to #defundTAP just got the decision delayed til next yr! A massive blow to @tap_pipeline. We're turning the tide on new #fossilfuels. #NoTAP #NotAPennyMore https://t.co/hUXeItfGCK pic.twitter.com/tObWGtitA9
— 350.org Europe (@350Europe) December 12, 2017
Maybe the board members had second thoughts after receiving messages from over 4,000 people across Europe that public money should not be spent on a climate-busting fossil fuel project that makes a mockery of Europe’s stated commitments to curbing emissions.
Maybe the deadly explosion at the Baumgarten gas hub in Austria that happened the same afternoon served as a stark reminder of the danger of such infrastructure. Maybe they felt uncomfortable backing the violent repression of communities along the pipeline route, and the project’s entanglement with corrupt regimes notorious for human rights abuses.
And maybe the increasing public scrutiny with groups across the continent taking action against the EU’s push for massive new gas infrastructure, led the bank to hold off.
Uppsala stands in solidarity with @gastivists in Italy that are resisting the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
The @EIB is about to approve a €1.5bn loan for TAP at their meeting in Luxembourg, we demand that new funding for fossil gas projects be stopped!#NoTAP #NoNewGas #DefundTAP pic.twitter.com/HOd6UEIxci
— Fossil Free Uppsala (@UUFossilFree) December 12, 2017
— Marc Guarapito (@guarapitu) December 12, 2017
On WEDNESDAY, people disrupted a fringe session at the One Planet Summit, where the EIB and Societé Generale — both potential funders of TAP — were speaking on a panel. It was yet another powerful reminder for the banks of just how toxic it would be for them to invest in this mega-pipeline, and how much international solidarity is building behind the #NoTAP community resistance in Italy.
And in the UK, as the University of Hull prepared to host the last in a series of BP-sponsored lectures as part of Hull City of Culture, campaigners with Culture Unstained released emails that reveal that the university has been willing to help clamp down on critics of the oil company as pressure mounted over the sponsorship arrangement.
.@HullUniversity caught helping @BP_plc greenwash its image & minimise dissent. If you partner with an oil company, you end up doing its dirty work. That's why our unis & cultural orgs MUST go #FossilFree! https://t.co/2HEHReOQ7g #Hull2017
— BP or not BP? (@ReclaimOurBard) December 13, 2017
And on THURSDAY, climate protectors disrupted a science conference in the Netherlands where the director of Shell was on stage talking about climate solutions. In a singing protest, people made it very clear that respected scientific institutions shouldn’t be giving the companies responsible for the climate crisis a platform to improve their image.
We know more will be needed to avoid an already escalating climate crisis. Which is why people around the world will keep on pushing through 2018 to stop new fossil fuel projects, end dirty finance, and get as many towns, cities, universities, museums and pension funds to go fossil free.
Congratulations to everyone who was involved in one of these moments, and let’s share the news so they ripple out far and wide.