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.
A group of Indigenous youth took their fight against the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project to the Vancouver offices of insurance companies backing the controversial venture earlier this week. On Thursday, approximately 20 youth from the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh) and other First Nations occupied the lobby — as well as south and west entrances — of 250 Howe St., a high-rise building housing Chubb Insurance Co. of Canada, one of 11 insurers backing the pipeline project. “We are demanding that they stop insuring the pipeline,” said a protest spokesperson who declined to give their name. “We’re going to be here all day, we’re going to make sure that they hear us, that they know that we’re here, that we know that we are trying to pressure them to stop insuring this pipeline.”
When New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced last month that the state would divest its over $200 billion Common Retirement Fund from more than 20 coal companies, it marked an important milestone for a grassroots campaign that has seen a recent burst of new momentum. In an op-ed published on July 12, DiNapoli stated, “After a thorough assessment, the fund has divested from 22 thermal coal mining companies that are not prepared to thrive, or even survive, in the low-carbon economy.” This victory is thanks to a near decade-long effort by activists who have been pressuring New York to divest from the companies most responsible for causing the climate crisis. A surge in youth-led activism has brought new energy to this campaign, putting pressure on both the comptroller’s office and state legislators. While New York still has not ended its investments in oil and gas companies, DiNapoli’s decision to divest from coal shows climate activists are having a real impact on one of the largest state pension funds in the United States.
As the Trump administration neared the end of its first year in office in 2017, it seemed environmental activists had lost one of the most hard-fought battles in the movement’s history. Thanks to a last-minute maneuver by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Congressional Republicans succeeded in passing legislation allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR. Some of the worst fears of environmental and Indigenous rights groups for what might happen under the administration appeared to be coming true. However, two and a half years later, no drilling or seismic testing has taken place in the refuge — and there is a very real chance it might never happen. A nationwide grassroots movement led by the Indigenous Gwich’in people has repeatedly delayed the oil leasing process and made the prospect of drilling less attractive to major companies.