After more than two years of pressure from student climate activists at the University of Washington, the University’s Board of Regents passed a resolution to divest the school's endowment, worth more than $6B, from the fossil fuel industry. The resolution, released last Friday, would move investments of around $124 million currently funding fossil fuel projects into "climate solutions." This move would add UW to a long list of public and private universities which have committed to removing investments in fossil fuel projects. “Moves like this are necessary to restore our faith in institutions during a crisis which will define the next several generations,” says Brett Anton.
Anti-science rhetoric and special interests have pushed us to the edge of climate chaos. But just as quantum physics disrupted our view of matter and energy, quantum social change disrupts our beliefs about what’s possible, how fast, and by whom. As the world gasped in wonder at the first images of our infant universe from the James Webb Space Telescope last month, we were reminded that human beings are still capable of acts that elevate us all and advance our collective potential. “[When] my grandchildren … look up at a star, point to it and say ‘there’s life!’ — that’s going to be a moment more profound than the Copernican moment that took Earth out of the center of the universe. It’s going to put an end to cosmic loneliness,” said project team member Natalie Batalha, a planet hunter and astronomer at UC Santa Cruz.
Twelve years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated the Gulf Coast. The spill caused serious health issues in cleanup workers and coastal communities, cost billions of dollars in economic losses and fundamentally disrupted the Gulf of Mexico’s marine ecology. Deepwater Horizon was an awful chapter in the toxic nightmare that oil, gas and petrochemical operations have long imposed on the region and its residents. Though it has widely been known as “Cancer Alley,” the stretch of land along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is now often referred to by residents as “Death Alley.” Instead of attempting to right its horrific legacy, the oil and gas industry is only doubling down. It has plans to build 20 new and expanded export facilities to liquify and ship fracked gas (what the industry calls LNG) in the Gulf Coast.
Banks that fund fossil fuel operations are just as guilty as the fossil fuel companies themselves: that was the message delivered to TD Bank and Bank of America at their branch locations in downtown Northampton, MA, on Saturday morning. Protesters demanded that the two banks “stop the money pipeline” by ending all loans and investments in the fossil fuel business and diverting those resources to the renewable energy sector. Participants funneled bags of cash into a giant model oil pipeline constructed out of cardboard. Pedestrians were invited to share their opinions on the alternative projects that the banks could be funding. Many people stopped to share their proposals for community-owned solar projects, community agriculture, and other programs by posting green dollar bills on a white board entitled “What Future Do You Want to Fund?”
Climate justice advocates celebrated Tuesday in response to insurance giant AIG's announcement that it will no longer invest in or provide insurance coverage for any new Arctic drilling activities nor will it finance or underwrite the construction of any new coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, or tar sands projects, effective immediately. AIG also said that it will immediately stop investing in or underwriting "new operation insurance risks" of coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, or tar sands projects owned by corporations that derive 30% or more of their revenue from those industries or generate over 30% of their energy production from coal.
With over 80 percent of the world’s population experiencing extreme weather linked to climate change, university endowments have become a focal point for students, faculty, and community members eager to snuff out their schools’ support for the fossil fuel companies most responsible for fueling the climate crisis. Major universities, including Boston University, the University of Minnesota, and Harvard University — which boasts the largest endowment of any school in the world — are among the latest to commit to pull billions from fossil fuel funds. In their wake, others are following suit. In July, Maine became the first U.S. state to legally require divestment of public funds from fossil fuel assets.
As climate change accelerates and environmental disasters proliferate around the world, a Big Oil-funded business lobbying group has decided to attack financial firms that are taking their money out of fossil fuel companies, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has learned. This month at the annual States and Nation Policy Summit of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pay-to-play organization that brings together corporate lobbyists and mostly Republican state lawmakers to author model legislation, members of the group’s energy task force voted unanimously to approve a new model policy that would prevent financial companies that end investments in oil, gas, and coal companies from receiving state government contracts or managing state funds.
Over the past decade, nearly 1,500 investors and institutions controlling almost $40 trillion in assets have committed to divesting from fossil fuels—a remarkable achievement that climate campaigners applauded Tuesday, while warning that further commitments and action remain crucial. "Amidst a depressing era in the race against climate change—with killer fires and titanic storms, political stalemate, and corporate greenwashing—the fossil fuel divestment movement is a source for tremendous optimism," states a new report—entitled Invest-Divest 2021: A Decade of Progress Toward a Just Climate Future—published Tuesday. "Ten years in, the divestment movement has grown to become a major global influence on energy policy," the publication continues.
Climate activists are hailing Harvard University’s move to divest from fossil fuels as a profound shift in the status quo and a model for other institutions. The iconic and wealthy university’s decision to go fossil-free comes after years of resisting calls to divest, writes The Washington Post, citing Harvard President Larry S. Bacow’s invocation of the climate crisis as the reason for the about-face. “We must act now as citizens, as scholars, and as an institution to address this crisis on as many fronts as we have at our disposal,” Bacow said in an open letter explaining the shift. The university’s a call to action “is likely to have ripple effects in higher education and beyond, given Harvard’s US$41-billion endowment and its iconic status among American institutions,” notes the Post.
The kids are mad as hell—and so are teachers who want their California teacher pension fund, CalSTRS, to join 1,000 other institutions collectively divesting $14.5 trillion from the fossil fuel industry that threatens climate catastrophe. The retirement fund divestment fight, led by retired teachers in Fossil Free CA and students from Youth vs Apocalypse and Earth Guardians, estimates CalSTRS' portfolio investments in fossil fuels at $16 billion, mostly in oil and gas delivery systems, but $6 billion in direct investments in oil behemoths, with $400 million in Exxon-Mobil, $350 million in Chevron, $250 million in BP and $108 million in Enbridge Inc. This is the same corporation sending attack dogs to maul water protectors protesting drilling at river crossings on indigenous land, where Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline will send sludgy tar sands through Minnesota.
Earlier today, activists from Stand.earth, 350 Vancouver, and Leadnow visited the Vancouver B.C. offices of multinational insurer Chubb to deliver petitions with over 130,000 signatures calling on the company not to renew their policy on the Trans Mountain pipeline. Today’s event is part of a campaign that has already led to commitments from 15 insurers to rule out doing business with the pipeline and other tar sands projects. “Wildfires, floods, and extreme weather events are costing the insurance industry billions. That is why so many insurance companies are cutting their ties to the dirtiest, most carbon intense forms of fossil fuels that are driving climate change” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Campaign Director for Stand.earth. “Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg needs to join other industry leaders and rule out insuring the tar sands and tar sands pipelines, like Trans Mountain, to protect his bottom line and all of our futures.”
"Because the bank management chose to avoid arrests at its front door, our group eventually took our rockers and banners and moved into the street in front of the bank. There we were arrested — Michael Bagdes-Canning, 67, was shoved into a police car and Padma Dyvine, 71, became the first to be loaded into the police van. We were held in frigid cells for some hours before release with an expectation that we would be summoned to court at a later date."
San Francisco - Today across 8 countries, 4 continents, and 50 U.S. cities, hundreds of climate and Indigenous rights activists are protesting 20 banks that have backed loans for Enbridge, the company constructing the Line 3 tar sands pipeline through Anishinaabe territory in Minnesota. The protests feature elaborate and artful displays such as a body mural in Seattle spelling “Defund Line 3,” a fake oil spill in New York, a large floating banner display in Chicago, a fake oil spill and giant dance party in D.C., and a street mural in San Francisco. Activists also effectively shut down branches of the 20 target banks in San Francisco, Seattle, London and others protested outside of branches in Japan, Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Costa Rica, the Holland, France and Canada.
There are signs Oxford University is slowly “getting it” when it comes to climate change. Last year, it committed to selling its multimillion-pound investments in oil and gas companies, after years of student campaigning, and more recently it launched an ambitious Sustainability Strategy. But a 12-month-long investigation we’ve just published shows how much deeper the ties between the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the industry run. We knew departments in our university took money from fossil fuel companies, but we were shocked by the sheer scale: since 2015, Oxford has received over £8.2 million in research grants and £3.7 million in donations from the sector. And numerous academics hold positions within the industry at the same time as teaching and conducting research at the university.
There are now more than 130 Water Protectors facing criminal charges for protecting the land from the Line 3 tar sands pipeline. At the same time, the climate criminals are free to keep bulldozing through my peoples’ sacred lands. It is physically painful to witness the land being ripped apart, to see our sacred manoomin being irrevocably harmed by a corporation that cares for nothing but profit. It is also deeply powerful to stand with those putting their bodies on the line to defend the land. For months now, we’ve been taking steady, constant direct actions to delay the construction of Line 3. In the freezing cold of a Minnesota winter, people have crawled into pipes, stood in front of excavators, engaged in tree-sits, climbed 40ft bi-pods, delayed construction with prayers, and locked to pianos to block bulldozers.