October 11, 2013

350.org and partners launch Fossil Free Europe tour ahead of regional divestment campaign

October 2013 — Starting October 27 and going through November 1, acclaimed author, activist, and co-founder of the international climate campaign 350.org [1] – Bill McKibben – will lead the Fossil Free Europe Tour accompanied by other movement leaders, including Greenpeace International’s executive director Kumi Naidoo, hosting events in Berlin, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Birmingham, and London.[2] The goal of the tour is to launch the first European fossil fuel divestment campaign.

As with previous sold-out tours in the USA and Australia, McKibben will make the case for how the core business model of the fossil fuel industry is destroying our climate, and poses the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. The campaign is modeled on the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, which helped to end the unjust system in South Africa.

This won’t be a typical lecture, but a multi-media experience that will help galvanise the movement in Europe after becoming the largest student led movement in the US in a generation. McKibben will bring together, on stage and via video, an impressive group of social movement leaders, organisers, climate scientists, and opinion leaders to make the case that divesting from fossil fuel companies is not just morally just, but ecologically and economically smart. He will do so in collaboration with local movement leaders and live musical performances from the ground-breaking artist Filastine.

With last month’s release of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which for the first time included a carbon budget for the quantity of fossil fuels humanity can use to avoid runaway climate change, the growing movement to divest public institutions from the fossil fuel industry gains significant momentum.

350.org launched the divestment campaign last autumn and the movement has already spread to over 300 colleges and universities and 100 cities and states in the United States, Australia, and Canada. Over 15 cities, six colleges, and numerous religious institutions, have already committed to dump their fossil fuel holdings.

Even the most conservative governments in the world have agreed that global warming should be limited to no more than 2°C. Scientists say to meet that target we can only emit roughly 565 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But the fossil fuel industry has 2795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide in their reserves, nearly five times too much [3] — and everyday they spend millions of Euros looking for more.

“Not only is fossil fuel a rogue industry, it’s also bad bet,” said McKibben. “Those carbon numbers make clear that the industry sits on a ‘Carbon Bubble’, with €13 trillion worth of fuel it can’t sell if the planet ever takes even minimal action against climate change.”

The European campaign will complement existing growing efforts by 350.org allies and partners such as People & Planet and Operation Noah in the UK with a focus, respectively, on university and church divestment [4] and Urgenda in the Netherlands.

Europe is already seeing divestment kick off; in July, Norwegian pension fund Storebrand and Dutch bank Rabobank took steps in that direction, and Sweden’s cluster of state pension funds have been recommended to dump fossil fuel holdings from the country’s Centre Party, which form the current government. In the UK, just this week, Quakers in Britain took steps to disinvest from companies engaged in extracting fossil fuels making them the first UK Christian denomination to do so. [5]

A recent study by the University of Oxford included that the fossil fuel divestment movement is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign and that, “The outcome of the stigmatisation process, which the fossil fuel divestment campaign has now triggered, poses the most far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies and the vast energy value chain.”[6]

“The Fossil Free Europe Tour is a bold initiative, catalysing a movement around divestment from fossil fuels and we are already starting to see results – the movement is getting bigger and stronger,” said Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo. “We need carbon liability for those who are destroying our future on this planet and those who profit from it.”

Ahead of this tour, a series of ‘artivist’ workshops will be held throughout Europe inviting activists, artists, campaigners, and students to creatively explore different tools and tactics to start confronting the ‘Carbon Bubble’ and sharing solutions to start moving money away from these rogue corporations.

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[1] 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Our online campaigns, grassroots organising, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organisers in over 188 countries. What is 350? 350 means climate safety. To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current levels of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm. But 350 is more than a number—it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM –a “people powered movement” with a global outreach.

[2] Further details on tour schedule can be found here: https://gofossilfree.org/europe-tour/

[3] According to report entitled: Unburnable carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets by Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE

[4] People & Planet, working on university divestment, have launched 19 campaigns including universities with the largest endowments: Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. Also, later this month a report produced by 350.org, People & Planet and Platform entitled Knowledge and Power: Fossil Fuel Universities will be released exposing in detail the ties between UK universities and the fossil fuel industry serving as the most comprehensive assessment to date of UK universities’ investments in the fossil fuel industry. In parallel, Operation Noah, an ecumenical Christian charity, recently launched Bright Now — a campaign focusing on church divestment.

[5] Quakers in Britain divestment announcement: http://www.quaker.org.uk/news/quakers-disinvest-fossil-fuels

[6] The Guardian Campaign against fossil fuels growing, says study

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