2016 Wrap-Up

We’re closing in on the end of 2016, and what a year it’s been.

While the sobering rise of right-wing populism and increasing devastation of climate impacts across the world sits heavy in our hearts, there are also a growing number of success stories for us to take hope and build from, not least the incredible power of the climate movement that has built over this year.

So here’s some of our movement highlights, as well as some things to look forward to next year…


The Road through Paris

Okay, so the Paris climate talks were technically in 2015. But they did a lot to shape our movement throughout this year.

Coming out of Paris, many governments were quick to claim Paris a great success – that the small group of world leaders gathered in the conference halls had finally figured it out and solved the ‘climate issue’.

And while Paris was certainly an improvement on previous COPs – enshrining 1.5 degree warming as the global aim, for example (something vulnerable nations like island states fought hard for), the agreement by no means went far enough. There is a serious gap between the aims of the agreement, and the action promised to get us there.

That’s why, coming out of Paris, our movement was not complacent.

We know that where governments and corporations fail, it’s up to us to fight for climate justice and keep it in the ground.

Break Free: the movement steps up

That’s why straight off the back of Paris, we jumped back into action and mobilised for Break Free – two weeks of escalated action against the fossil fuel industry across six continents in May.

Here in the UK, Reclaim the Power kicked off the global mobilisation with a beautiful mass action at the largest opencast coal mine – Ffos-y-fran in Wales. Hundreds of people came together for a weekend of workshops and training, before taking action to shut down the mine for a day and draw a red line – carrying on the theme from Paris and the promise we collectively made to fight for climate justice.

The action continued against major fossil fuel sites across the world, including the Ende Gelände action in Germany where thousands of climate activists from across Europe blockaded one of the continent’s largest lignite mines for over 48 hours.

Everywhere divested

Well, not everywhere, but 2016 has definitely been also seen the fossil fuel divestment campaign kick into overdrive.

In the UK and across the world we’ve seen massive divestment victories this year showing just how wide the movement has spread…

  1. With their University League, People & Planet revealed that a quarter of UK universities have now made commitments to divest – an absolutely huge number, and great testament to the incredible student organising that’s been happening on campuses for several years now.
  2. We’ve also seen some big wins from the Fossil Free Culture movement, thanks to the work of the Art Not Oil coalition. Both Tate and the Edinburgh International Festival dropped their BP sponsorship this year, and escalating actions have been taking place at other institutions such as the British Museum.
  3. This year also saw the first full divestment commitments from UK pension funds – with both Waltham Forest and Southwark councils voting to divest their funds (collectively worth £2 billion).
  4. Across Europe, five capital cities have divested – Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin and Oslo.
  5. And finally, globally, we’ve released figures showing that nearly 700 institutions in 76 countries, worth more that $5 trillion have made commitments to divest. That’s doubled in size in just 15 months.

Looking forward…

In Paris last year we committed to building our momentum and taking on the power of the fossil fuel industry, and our movement has done that across the world.

We are determined to continue fighting for victories, and creating a vibrant and powerful network ready to step it up yet again in 2017.

Some things to look forward to in 2017:

  1. The divestment movement flexing it’s muscles, again. In May 2017, the next big Global Divestment Mobilisation will take place, showcasing the power and diversity of our movement (keep your eyes peeled for more information early next year). We’ll also be  boosting our local organising around the May elections, and pushing the new Divest Parliament campaign.
  2. Stepping up the fight at the frontiers of fossil fuel extraction. Here in the UK, we’re facing a government determined to frack the nation, but also a movement rising to meet them. Break Free showed what we’re capable of, and with the UK public opposing fracking in greater numbers than ever before, the industry better be ready for a fight.
  3. Building the strength of intersectional struggles. For many, 2016 has been a wake-up year – a wake-up to the fact that fights for environmental, economic, and social justice are interlinked, and that we can’t truly change our unjust systems unless we support each other. So it’s crucial to do everything we can to strengthen solidarity across progressive social movements to build the inclusive movement we need.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this amazing movement, and we look forward to seeing you in 2017!

“Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.” – Rebecca Solnit

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