Activism – 350.org

The divestment movement played a key role in helping liberate South Africa. The corporations understood the logics of money even when they weren’t swayed by the dictates of morality. Climate change is a deeply moral issue too, of course…Once again, we can join together as a world and put pressure where it counts.

- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

350.org is a global movement for climate change activism. The name comes from the scientific measurement of 350 parts per million, the concentration of CO2 which scientists establish as the safe limit. The planet has gone well beyond this safe limit and is now in the danger zone. 350.org is the brainchild of activist Bill McKibben and has diversified into a number of areas of activism. 350.org is taking the battle directly to the fossil fuel industry because it realizes that the future of humanity is at stake. 350.org is spearheading the Do the Math, Fossil Free Divestment campaign, the Keystone XL campaign and the Global Power Shift movement to scale global climate change action worldwide.

Major 350 Campaigns

350.org is spearheading a number of major national and international campaigns to fight climate change.

 

In July 2012, Rolling Stones magazine published an article written by Bill McKibben entitled Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math. This was the first time the fossil fuel industry’s dirty secret of its carbon bubble became common knowledge. McKibben, working along with the Carbon Tracker thinktank out of the UK, introduced the pubic to the notion of “unburnable carbon” that most of the fossil fuel reserves owned by the large fossil fuel companies, must stay in the ground if we are to avoid breaching the already dangerous 2 Deg. C global temperature limit established by over 150 countries at the 2009 UN Copenhagen summit.

The Fossil Free campaign is a major initiative growing out of the Do the Math campaign. 350.org initiated dialogue with all the university campuses that hosted the tour and now there is a growing movement of university funds divesting in fossil fuel investments. The movement is also spreading towards large municipalities and pension and teacher’s funds divesting.

In the aftermath of the successful Do the Math tour, the growing fossil fuel divestment movement has spread to more than 300 colleges and universities in 2013. One of the day’s largest events took place at San Francisco City Hall, where students from across the city rallied with 350.org founder Bill McKibben  and city supervisors who recently voted unanimously to push the city’s pension fund to divest $583 million from the fossil fuel industry. San Francisco was inspired to work towards divestment because of the student movement — now, they’re helping students push their universities to divest!


Two organizations are leading the divestment drive. One, the Mayors Innovation Project, is a network of politically progressive mayors and the other,350.org, is a climate campaign that has organized a growing divestment effort on college campuses.

It appears that the fossil fuel divestment strategy is beginning to pick up steam. After the Do the Math tour in 2012, Seattle became the first city to divest itself of fossil fuel investments. Seattle’s mayor Mike McGinn committed to keep his city funds out of fossil fuel companies and push the city’s $2 billion pension fund to pursue divestment

In April 2013, two more cities joined the divestment movement started by 350.org. Ithaca, NY became the first East Coast city to commit to divestment. Ithaca’s Mayor, 26-year old Mayor Svante Myrick, is one of the youngest mayors and youngest African-Americans elected in US history. Mayor Myrick agreed to pursue divestment after meeting with a group of local high school students who urged him to act in order to protect their future.

And meanwhile, on the west coast the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco followed suit, voting unanimously to urge the city’s $16 billion retirement fund to divest over $583 million from 91 different fossil fuel companies. The San Francisco fund is the largest that the 350 campaign has targeted so far. 350 still needs to apply some serious pressure on the Retirement Board to follow through with divestment, but as a long-time board member told a local paper, “We’d give it consideration if one supervisor asked us to look at it — and in this case, it was the full board.”

Berkeley’s City Council is expected to vote on a resolution asking California’s immense public employee retirement system, CalPERS, to do the same. Berkeley already avoids investing city funds in fossil fuel companies, said Mayor Tom Bates. That isn’t a formal policy, but Tuesday’s resolution would begin the process of making it one.

“We don’t invest in guns or tobacco, and it turns out we don’t invest in oil, either,” he said. “But the real issue isn’t us — it’s CalPERS. They are major players.”

In addition to Berkeley and San Francisco, the other cities so far include:

  1. Bayfield, Wis.;
  2. Boulder, Colo.;
  3. Eugene, Ore.;
  4. Ithaca, NY;
  5. Madison, Wis.;
  6. Richmond, Calif.;
  7. Seattle, Wash.;
  8. State College, Penn.

The increasing number of cities announcing divestment of fossil fuel interests sends a powerful message to the fossil fuel industry: if you’re going to try and take away our planet, we’re going to try and take away your money. We’re no longer just playing defense against dirty projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, we’re going on offense, too.

It also sends an equally important message to other cities and institutions: if it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s also wrong to profit from that wreckage. And with some of the most innovative cities in the country now firmly on board with this campaign, there should be no excuse for college trustees or other cities to keep dragging their feet on divestment.

350 kicked off this divestment campaign in 2012 and have spread it across the nation to over 300 colleges and universities. Now, the effort is moving off campus: there are over 100 petitions up on the GoFossilFree.org website targeting cities, states, and religious institutions. 350 encourages EVERYONE to call up their local investors and speak to them about divestment. Here’s the link:


Tar Sands, the Dirtiest Oil in the World

Pollution from tar sands oil greatly eclipses that of conventional oil. During tar sands oil production alone, levels of carbon dioxide emissions are three times higher than those of conventional oil, due to more energy-intensive extraction and refining processes. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry 900,000 barrels of dirty tar

sands oil into the United States daily, doubling the United States reliance on it and resulting in climate-damaging emissions equal to adding more than six million new cars to U.S. roads. During the tar sands oil extraction process, vast amounts of water are needed to separate the extracted product, bitumen, from sand, silt, and clay.

It takes three barrels of water to extract each single barrel of oil. At this rate, tar sands operations use roughly 400 million gallons of water a day. Ninety percent of this polluted water is dumped into large human-made pools, known as tailing ponds, after it’s used. These ponds are home to toxic sludge, full of harmful substances like cyanide and ammonia, which has worked its way into neighboring clean water supplies. (Source: Friends of the Earth)

Jim Hanson speaking at Keystone XL protest
100+ youth and allies returned in force to TransCanada’s Massachusetts office to escalate the battle to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.
James Hanson sends a message to president Obama at Keystone XL protest
Global Power Shift (GPS) is a global program that is going to attempt to organize climate change activism on an unprecedented global scale. The reason is clear. The next few years can very well determine if human civilization will survive climate chaos or not. Climate change is not a problem limited to one country or region, it will affect the entire planet.

Governmental and institutional change left on its own is too slow to avert catastrophe. The people must act. Governments listen to people, but only if they are vocal enough. Doing our own little bit of going green is not enough. We need rapid and profound global change at the institutional level and that means it’s up to the people to mobilize and trigger the governments into the scale of action necessary.

   

PHASE 1 MEETING IN INSTANBUL (NOW CLOSED)

Global Power Shift (GPS) will be a multi-pronged project to scale up our movement and establish a new course, like never before. The basic plan is this:

  1. In June of 2013, 500 activistswill gather in Turkey — from leaders to engaged community members
  2. They will be trained in grassroots and digital organizing, share stories, and chart a strategy for 2014
  3. Attendees will then return to their home countries in teams to organize mobilizations
  4. These national or regional events will be launchpads for new, highly-coordinated campaigns targeting political and corporate levers of power
  5. Together, GPS will shift the power and spark the kind of visionary transformation we need to fight the climate crisis

Istanbul will be the launchpad for something much bigger — national mobilizations throughout the world. After June 2013, GPS will need all hands on deck to be part of the massive organizing work that will take place throughout 2013 and beyond. Go here, sign the pledge and get ready!

PHASE 2 – SCALE AROUND THE PLANET

IF YOU ARE PART OF A GROUP, NETWORK, OR ORGANIZATION THAT WISHES TO GET INVOLVED, PLEASE REVIEW THE OPTIONS BELOW:

Global Power Shift (GPS) is the starting point for a new phase in the global climate movement. In Phase 1, hundreds of climate leaders from around the world will gather in Istanbul to build community and prepare for a year of new action and strategy for the movement. Then, throughout the remainder of 2013 the world will witness a wave of events and mobilizations like never seen before.

If your group, organization, or network would like to be part of this effort, here are some of the ways you can get involved!

1- Help spread the word about the Global Power Shift!

Get the word out about GPS to your team and to your networks, and get people talking about it! This is a great opportunity to create momentum for the global climate movement and building buzz helps make that happen. Some ideas to do this include:

  • Like GPS on Facebook and share it with our network.
  • Follow GPS on Twitter and tweet about GPS to your followers.
  • Even better, integrate the GPS narrative more generally into your communication and social media strategies for the months ahead.
  • Get involved in any or all the ways above at the national level when the delegation that goes to Turkey comes home.

2- Be a lead national event organizing group!

A crucial part of the GPS strategy is the series of national follow up events and mobilizations we are planning throughout 2013 and beyond. Country after country we will organize national or regional summits and/or mobilizations. Depending on the size of the host country, these national efforts will bring together anywhere between hundreds or thousands of activists.

The national summits will be opportunities to build on or launch national climate campaigns and to empower participants from around the country to return home equipped to lead local action groups. Local groups will in turn educate the public about the realities and solutions to climate change, implement solutions projects and campaigns, and begin to recruit for mass global action leading into 2014 and 2015.

As a partner, you will work with national and regional networks convened through GPS and team to organize nationally, which may include: mobilizing local support, resources, putting together a team, planning the programme, designing the schedule, developing a campaign plan, and more.

4- Join the organizing team for the national or regional events!

If your group wants to be involved, but it’s not ready to take full responsibility to lead the process of organizing a national or regional event, it’s okay! You can still partner with others and join the team in each country to support the organizing of the national events and campaigns.

5- Support our fundraising efforts for the Global Power Shift!

If your group or organization is able to mobilize resources, maybe you can support us in funding the GPS. As a partner you can contribute to the overall budget which will be distributed into the areas that need the most.

6- Support mobilizing resources for the national follow up events!

We are already starting to plan the different national follow up events, mobilizations, and campaigns, and all the help possible is very much welcome! If your group or organization is able to support us mobilizing the resources (financial and in-kind) that we will need for the different national events, please get in touch!

7- Connect us with high-profile speakers within your networks!

A big component of our Global Power Shift is the inspirational talks led by high-profile speakers. If you are connected to a network of inspiring people, and high-profile speakers, maybe you can partner with us to identify and recruit those speakers.

If any of those options interest you, GET IN TOUCH!

Contact joao@350.org and he’ll put in you in touch with the right person on the GPS organizing team and/or 350.org staff.