Vermont is home to Bill McKibben and where the founders of 350.org all went to school — you could say it’s a sort of spiritual center for our campaign. Which is why it’s really good to see some big coverage in Seven Days, Burlington’s alternative weekly, about the growing movement across the state for fossil fuel divestment.
As this campaign heats up, we’re going to be working hard to connect students with activists off-campus so that we can all work to push for change at the city and state level as well (dozens of cities and states ended up divesting from South Africa during the anti-apartheid movement, making a major impact). As usual, Vermont is ahead of the curve.
Bill McKibben Recruits Vermont for the Next Climate-War Offensive: Divest From Big Oil
by Kathryn Flagg
Bill McKibben’s new front in the fight against climate change is less about tree hugging and more about number crunching. The renowned climate activist and Vermont resident is headlining a cross-country bus tour calling on schools, churches and governments to divest from fossil-fuel companies.
Modeled after the successful campaign of the 1980s to divest from companies doing business in apartheid-era South Africa, the fossil-fuel divestment campaign — as led by McKibben’s environmental group 350.org — is targeting the 200 top fossil-fuel companies in the country, among them Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell.
Vermont climate activists are heeding the call, with groups such as Vermont Public Interest Research Group calling on the state to strip its pension funds of big oil in favor of more socially responsible investments.
“I don’t think financially we can cripple them. They’re so big and so rich,” McKibben says of oil companies during a phone interview. “I do think we can have a very powerful effect on changing their status, on removing their veneer of respectability.” Divestment, McKibben says, represents an “inherently moral call, saying if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”
Vermont student activists have taken up McKibben’s cause, with gusto. At Middlebury College, five students made headlines after issuing a spoof press release claiming the college had divested its $907 million endowment from environmentally destructive companies. Members of a socially responsible investing club have pushed Middlebury for years to enact similar reforms.