By Katie McChesney
Since the results of the election have come, I have sat grappling with not only a Trump Presidency, but with the 100 days commitments he made. I felt sad and enraged: this is not the America I want to live in.
From foreign policy to protection and dignity of communities of color, to immigration and the respect for women and the LGBTQ community – Trump is failing the American people. Trump’s blatant climate denial, piled on top of his sexist, racist, xenophobic stance is sickening.
What does a Trump (and his fossil fuel billionaire friends’) Presidency mean for the divestment movement?
Before this week our movement knew that the pathway to success did not hinge just on government actions. We knew that moral institutions, like faith institutions and universities, have the power to change the course of history by refusing to cooperate with a rogue industry. This is true now more than ever. We can not sit idly by while our institutions remain complicit in hurtling our world past the 1.5-degree mark and into a global crisis. This was true with Obama as our President and it will be ever more true under Donald Trump.
The fossil fuel divestment movement has played a key role in shifting the zeitgeist around the fossil fuel industry. Youth have led us to over 600 institutions divested. We’ve mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to reject the industry, and mobilized as a political force to both elect President Obama and push him to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. But in the face of a Trump Presidency, we need to be ready to resist — the fight is ever more important. Trump’s 100-day plan is catastrophic for the climate — it includes bringing back the Keystone XL Pipeline and starting to pull the US out of the Paris agreement.
It is our responsibility to fight to delegitimize the support of the racist, fascist, and entirely destructive policies of Trump. We must organize. We must organize the masses in our institutions to pull their support of the fossil fuel industry. We must strip the fossil fuel industry of their social license – they cannot continue to act with disregard for each and every one of our futures.
We can no longer rely on federal action to reign in this destructive industry, but we can block their expansion by continuing to delegitimize their bottom line.
Fossil fuel companies have known for half a century about the realities of climate change. Instead of heeding the warnings of their own scientists, these companies went on to orchestrate an extensive campaign to deceive the public and block climate action. Exxon profited from decades of deceit, and we must fight as long as their lies are perpetuated.
It has never felt more clear to me: the leaders we have now are not taking this problem seriously. They continue to allow the fossil fuel industry to destroy our communities and continue accelerating the climate crisis. It’s up to all of us to push for real action, action to match the scale of the crisis.
That is why we are committed to the fight of our lives.
So to our newly-elected President: you have a lot to prove about your commitment to justice, because we are not slowing down and neither is this crisis. Our country deserves better, and our country demands true leadership.
Simply put, what does that mean for divestment? Overall: We cannot slow down.
1. This year we will will reach new heights with commitments to divest from the fossil fuel industry, young people and community members will continue to take bold and risky action to ensure we stand on the right side of history. A generational commitment to fossil free institutions is being formed. A generational commitment to combating climate change in the face of climate denier is being confirmed.
2. We will join with the broader progressive movements to push for an equitable transition to renewables, an economy that works for and respects all people, and protection and dignity for all. The means we need to fight as apart of the larger climate movement to take back power in 2018.
3. We will continue to take action with global community. We are apart of a global movement taking on the fossil fuel industry, that feels the ripple effect of this decision. We need to send a clear message – the American people to do not stand with hate and denial of a Trump agenda. We are committed to ensuring the US plays its part in keeping us at the 1.5 C mark as set in the Paris Agreement.