December 2014, has been a month of decisive victories for the fossil fuel divestment movement. Divestment was on the tip of nearly everyone’s tongues in Lima, Peru; and as hesitant policy makers and manipulative fossil fuel companies continued to disappoint, grassroots activists standing for divestment and protesting to get fossil fuel interests out of climate talks proved something big. No, big does not begin to describe what’s at play here. It’s something huge. The people proved that not only does the divestment movement have legs…but it’s running full speed at a faster pace than the fossil fuel industry can keep up with.
That’s why we are putting these digests out there, to capture the five big community stories, the five big campus stories, five emerging petitions, and our new addition originally performed by activists’ in Lima, Peru – the fossil of the month award.
Now without further ado…
Here are the five global campuses calling us to action:
1. USA: Who wrote the one invitation that no one can or should refuse?
Students driving the divestment movement invited their peers from across North America to join them in the fight to divest from Fossil Fuels for Global Divestment Day (February 13, 2015).
What did the invitation say? Here’s a summary, but to read the whole thing, click here “.. .Over the next few months, we’ll gather our allies and craft action plans for strategic escalation–intentionally ramping our efforts up to block business as usual and demand climate justice. On February 13th, we will hold rallies, vigils, and press conferences announcing our intention to escalate in late March and April. While our administrations might be afraid to take bold action on climate, we won’t be. If you pledge to escalate through nonviolent direct action over the course of the spring, add your name to this form. The next step is to get everyone on your campus to sign the pledge. We will add you to our mailing list to follow-up.”
2. SWEDEN: Who is making history in Sweden?
Students! Students at Jönköping University in Sweden fought a year-long battle to make their university accountable…and they had a victory! The victory was that the students pressured Jönköping University to exclude all direct investments in fossil fuels from its investment policy. This is a first step towards the university’s aim to rid itself of all investments in fossil fuel companies.
Do they have a petition?: Why yes they do! Follow their story here.
Actually, students across Sweden are doing what? Students are driving a nationwide movement beyond Jönköping University. In December, Students gathered outside Lund University’s board meeting on December demanding their institution ditches its fossil fuel holdings, following a week of divestment action on campus (photos). The protestors are backed by about 1,800 who signed on to Fossil Free LU’s demands.
Check out this brilliant quote: “There is a ridiculous irony that whilst investing in fossil fuels, Lund University funds research and education that recognizes fossil fuels as the number one cause in climate change. We know from an assessment report that the risk of loss from divestment is 0%. They’re running out of excuses,” explained student campaigner Cherry Tsoi.
And this remarkable flash mob: Fossil Free Sweden has delivered on a new adage, if life gives you umbrellas, make a jaw-dropping video of a flash mob compelling the people to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
3. THE MARSHALL ISLANDS: Who became the first college in the Pacific Islands to divest from fossil fuels?
The College of the Marshall Islands! In December, the Board of Regents of the College of the Marshall Islands unanimously approved divesting the college’s endowments funds from fossil fuels.
What does a revolution sound like? President Carl Hacker said this, “The Pacific region has to be a leading voice in raising this awareness and do whatever we can in our own home islands to walk the talk of divestment of fossil fuels and climate change.”
This, is a very good point: Responding to the news, 350.org UK Divestment Campaigner Danielle Paffard said: “Yet here is a university in one of the most climate change exposed countries in the world, who has contributed the least to the problem, showing real climate leadership by divesting from the industry driving the climate crisis. We commend CMI and encourage other universities to follow in their footsteps.”
Too good to not learn more? Read their press-release here.
4. AUSTRALIA: Who just made a top 50 most influential people list?
Australia’s campus divestment campaign! In December, the fossil free movement was named #39 on The Australian’s Higher Education 50 most influential people list.
ACE! What landed them this honor? Here is a direct quote from the online publication: “Vested interests might have tried to undermine the fossil-free movement over ANU’s decision to divest $16m in fossil-fuel share holdings, but take a look overseas and all the evidence points to the fact that this movement is here for a long haul — and they are not going to be intimidated by the status quo. Expect to see much more of FFM in 2015 and beyond. This mob reckons they are on the right side of history.”
Let’s get the inside scoop, what’s next for the movement? The Australian divestment movement is gearing up in a big way for Global Divestment day. Check out their next call for action, and get pumped!
5. USA: Who became the very first public university to fully divest from fossil fuels?
CA State University in Chico became an environmental pioneer in the battle against fossil fuels this December when it declared its commitment to full fossil fuel divestment.
Wait, what does full divestment mean? Of the 23 CSUs, CSU Chico is the third CSU to create a divestment policy, along with San Francisco State and Humboldt State. While CSU Chico has no direct investments in fossil fuel companies, approximately 1.5 percent of the foundation’s endowment is invested in mutual funds containing stock from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. Full divestment means moving investments out of those funds too.
How did they do it?! Kevin Killion, a student leader at Chico State University and Operating Team Chair with the CA Student Sustainability Coalition tells all: “This has been an inspiring experience working with youth leaders across the nation and state to demand, and win, fossil fuel divestment. Our campaign over the past year and a half was strongly supported by the Chico student government, who worked hard to bring this proposal to the Foundation after seeing strong student engagement. The work was catapulted by a team that built support on campus and held numerous creative actions, including a human oil spill in the administration building, and a banner drop on the tallest building.”
For more information: Check out the press release here.
Now, for the…five global communities calling us to action
1. EVERYWHERE: Everyone, everywhere is about to make fossil fuels history, here’s how…
On February 13-14, thousands of people across every continent will take action for Global Divestment Day. Together, we will move our money out of fossil fuels and call on others to do the same.
Why? The global divestment movement is weakening the political power of the fossil fuel industry so that we can break the climate deadlock and build the solutions the world needs. But to change everything we need everyone: join us and let’s make fossil fuels history.
Find out more: RSVP today.
2. AUSTRALIA: Australians call ACT to action, the rugby way…
ACT (or the Australian Capital Territory) was called to divest through a petition that became a very big deal. The petition – ACT Divestment – is a short and simple call for ACT to divest. But the reaction it has gotten has been huge. The number of signers on the petition went from 400 to over 4000 in a few days after Canberrans and former captain of the Australian rugby team took action at the Leard community coal blockade and called on the ACT Government to divest from Whitehaven Coal (who is developing the mine at the blockade) and other fossil fuel companies.
Wondering how to recruit a renowned rugby player to promote your petition? The answer you seek is right here.
3. USA: Ever heard of a divestment-blocker? San Francisco has one, and the people are investigating why.
The City of San Francisco is investigating divestment-blocking city pension board member Wendy Paskin-Jordan. Here is a summary from International Business Times – “San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday declined to approve the reappointment of the city’s former first lady to the city’s retirement board, citing concerns about her personal investments. The supervisors delayed their final vote until after the New Year to give themselves time to review whether Wendy Paskin-Jordan violated ethics rules in connection with her investment in a firm that also manages city pension money.” Campaigners are working hard to push the city to kick Wendy off the board.
People, let’s take action! You can help block this reappointment right now by signing this letter.
4. CANADA: Who is the first foundation in Canada to decide on fossil fuel divestment?
“The Catherine Donnelly Foundation Board has unanimously agreed that it would no longer make direct investments in any of the 200 global, publicly-traded companies with the largest coal, oil and gas reserves as listed in the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s “Unburnable Carbon” report.” Read on here.
5. EVERYWHERE: How are Catholic bishops taking to the pulpits to end fossil fuel use?
In an unprecedented unifying act by Senior Catholic bishops, bishops from every continent are calling for an end to fossil fuel use and increased efforts to secure a global climate treaty.
Here’s what they’re saying: In their statement, the bishops explain that they want a “deepening of the discourse at the COP20 in Lima, to ensure concrete decisions are taken at COP21 to overcome the climate challenge and to set us on new sustainable pathways.”
The Fossil of the Month! And the fossil of the month goes to…
…Any of these UCL Council members stepping over the “dropped dead” bodies of students outside of their UCL Council meeting. Students at London’s Global University were protesting the reported £14.4m investment in the fossil fuel industry.
The photo says it all. As does the extensive media coverage of the action.
Five emerging petitions hot off the press…
- University of Tasmania, Australia
- University of Sydney, Australia
- Orange County, New York
- Denton, Texas
- Leesburg, Virginia
Some extra inspiration…we all need it!
Hey there, thanks for reading to the end. There are two staff favorite stories from December that we need to sneak in.
- One is this inspiring movie on the diary of an activist.
- The other is this story on reinvestment in Mississippi, of a true grassroots environment leader.
I hope you get the chance to check them both out, and see you all in January.