Global Divestment Day is a chance for fossil fuel divestment campaigns from around the world to stand together proudly and amplify a message that’s so much bigger than one country or one region. But the fossil fuel divestment movement started here in North America, and many of the existing campaigns in the United States and Canada are farther along in their campaigning — or simply taking a different tack — than campaigns elsewhere in the world.
This guide is to help North American divestment organizers deepen their participation in Global Divestment Day and frame their events in a way that makes sense for their campaigning context. This guide is meant to serve as a supplement to the general Global Divestment Day Organizing Guide.
On-Campus or Community-Based?
Is your divestment campaign targeting a college or university, or are you targeting a local government, pension fund, church, or other institution?
Student divestment activists are self-organizing to take nonviolent direct action on February 13th. If you’re a student activist working on campus, click here to read their invitation to join them and connect with organizers.
If you’re part of an off-campus campaign, keep reading.
What if I don’t already have a campaign up and running?
That’s OK! Global Divestment Day is a great time to start a new divestment campaign. Successful campaigns can take many forms, but we’ve found that many follow a similar path. Here’s a basic divestment campaign roadmap to get you started. For what your event could look like: take a look at some of the tactics we suggest for new campaigns under the next section.
What should my event look like?
This depends entirely on who your target is, and where you are in your campaign. See below for some suggested tactics for different situations:
Global Divestment Day Rallies & Marches
Is your campaign in need of a big kickoff event? Are you stalled with your target and need to demonstrate some public pressure? Then a rally or a march might be just what the doctor ordered! Numbers are critical here, so keep in mind what size of a crowd is paid attention to in your area. Possible locations for a rally include: University President’s offices, city halls, state capitols or the offices of board members who are standing in the way of divestment. A rally or march is a classic, and many of the tactics below will go well right along with one!
Is your campaign humming away? Do you have a fact or figure you’d like to highlight? A target who needs a simple message delivered? Tired of the same old rally format? Then consider a banner drop! Students from the Divestment Student Network have a great template for calling out targets who are on the wrong side that they’ll be using on Divestment Day. Also consider the Creative Action Visuals manual from The Ruckus Society for tips on how large a banner, what materials to use and how to make it. Don’t forget: banner placement is key!
Spell out “Fossil Fuels = History”
Have a lot of people? Looking for something beyond the rally format? Want to have a lot of fun? Then consider sending a message–with people! Globally, people from multiple countries will be spelling out a global message together, so let’s make sure they hear us in North America: loud and clear. Don’t forget to send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a Pledge
Just getting started with a campaign? Need to build a lot of committed support? Have a target who needs a little extra public pressure? Then consider asking your supporters to commit publicly with a pledge! For ideas on how this can be used, check out this blog post about how students will be using public pledges. You don’t need to use the same pledge, make up your own! This is a great tactic that people can also participate in online, and you can use it to spice up a rally. Don’t forget to get the names and emails of those pledging so that you can follow up with them later.
Have signatures on a petition on gofossilfree.org that you haven’t delivered to your target yet? Try setting up an appointment with your target, and using the gofossilfree system to print out your signatures for delivery, then arrange them in a creative way to deliver to your target! Don’t forget to follow up with your target with next steps or a meeting request. This is a great accompanying tactic when you’re having a public event like a rally.
Divestment House Parties/Meetings/Informational Sessions
Just starting a new campaign from scratch? Looking to reach out to a new constituency? Worried that divestment might not be popular in your area? Don’t worry: start small. Smaller, comfortable and informal meetings or parties can be a great way to get started. Make sure you personally reach out to attendees and plan your agenda–don’t forget to have fun and make sure people get to know each other! [Resource for planning a meeting?]
How do I get the word out to media about my event?
See our Global Divestment Day media guide here. It will tell you how to reach out to media and what support the Fossil Free team can offer you. We want your event to get covered!
North American Talking Points
This will provide you with more extensive messaging to use when talking to the media. A great tool to share with your whole group to ensure your messaging is cohesive!
How can I use divestment as a solidarity tactic?
We’re calling for divestment from fossil fuels because it’s the right and moral thing to do. But how do we organize in a way that is in integrity and alignment with communities that have the most at stake in environmental and climate fights? Many divestment campaigners in North America — especially campus campaigners — have been thinking deeply about this question. Our September web workshop tackled the topic of using divestment as a solidarity tactic, and it’s a great place to get started:
What other resources are available?
Make sure to check out the general Global Divestment Day Organizing Guide, as well as the Global Divestment Day Action Toolkit, which includes more creative action ideas, a style guide, shareable graphics, and more.
Campaign staff in both North America and Europe are also running a series of web workshops on organizing around Global Divestment Day. You can watch the first two installments here:
Wednesday, January 28th: This Changes Everything with Naomi Klein. Click here for all of the info you need to attend (including your timezone, this is global).
For more upcoming divestment web workshops, as well as past workshop recordings, visit gofossilfree.org/webworkshops.
Thank you to our partners!
The following are partners of the divestment movement who are contributing to the Global Divestment Day.