September 11, 2018

Global Protests Challenge Decision Makers to “Go Fossil Free” at Global Climate Action Summit

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — As politicians, businesses, and investors prepare to gather in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit that begins this Thursday, climate activists have set forward a clear benchmark for climate action: ending the use of fossil fuels and a fast and fair transition to 100% renewable energy for all.

Those demands rang loud and clear at Saturday’s “Rise for Climate” global day of action that saw hundreds of thousands take part in 900 actions in 95 countries, including a march in San Francisco that drew 30,000 people to the streets. The events spanned the globe from Fiji to Paris, but were united by a common call to action: it’s time to go fossil free.

“Going fossil free is the new benchmark for climate leadership,” said Global Program Director Payal Parekh. “We’re passed the point for vague, long term commitments. People want to see real, tangible plans for how governments, businesses and investors will end the use of fossil fuels and accelerate a just and equitable transition to 100% renewable energy. The Global Climate Action Summit needs to deliver results, not rhetoric.”

Challenging the power of the fossil fuel industry has become the top priority for leading climate groups like Over the past few years, the organization has focused on stopping major fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States, the Adani coal mines and ports in Australia, the open pit coal mines in Germany, or a coal fired power plant planned for the UNESCO world heritage site of the Lamu Islands in Kenya. This August, campaigners in Canada saw a major victory in the fight against the Kinder Morgan TransMountain tar sands pipeline when a federal court ruled that the government had failed to conduct a proper environmental review and consult First Nations on the project.

“Our goal is to bring together a grassroots movement that can stop any fossil fuel project anywhere,” said Executive Director May Boeve. “We work with thousands of groups around the world who are on the frontlines of this struggle and the movement is growing by the day. What we want to see out of the Global Climate Action Summit is a commitment from politicians, businesses and investors to join us in this fight.” has also used the strategy of divestment to take on the fossil fuel industry. On Monday, the organization partnered with Divest-Invest to release a report on the latest number of fossil fuel divestment commitments and issued a new challenge to investors. At last count, the movement had secured commitments from more than 950 institutions representing $6.4 trillion in capital. The last year saw commitments from the nation of Ireland, the financial capital of the world, New York City, and major healthcare organizations, like the American Medical Association. Now, the movement is challenging investors to divest over $10 trillion by 2020 and  demanding that investors involved in shareholder engagement either get results or divest.

“If you’re still funding fossil fuels, you’re part of the problem,” said Senior Analyst Brett Fleishman. “We want to see investors at this week’s summit put forward clear timetables for divesting their fossil fuel assets and putting more money into climate solutions. Shareholder engagement with the industry has proven to be a dead end. It’s just enabled the industry to greenwash their operations while pursuing the same destructive business plans. Divestment is the only responsible way forward.”

Over the coming week of the Global Climate Action Summit, and its allies will continue to make the case for going fossil free. Monday saw the release of the divestment report at a press conference featuring legendary investor Jeremy Grantham and other divestment supporters. On Tuesday, 350 Bay Area is hosting a day-long summit on divestment and climate liability, highlighting the growing efforts to hold fossil fuel companies legally accountable for climate damages. Thursday will feature protests outside the summit intended to push Governor Jerry Brown to end new fossil fuel production in California. On Friday, will wrap-up the summit week with a concert put on by Pathways to Paris featuring Patti Smith, Bob Weir, Flea, Bill McKibben and more.

“We’ve always known that climate leadership needs to come from the ground up,” said Boeve. “This weekend saw people around the world call for a fossil free future. Now it’s time for decision makers to respond. We’ll be there pushing them to do the right thing every single step of the way.”