WORLDWIDE -- The fossil fuel divestment movement is coming together for a Global Divestment Day of action this February 13-14 to increase the pressure on institutions to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies that are at the source of the climate crisis.
The Global Divestment Day events will span across the planet marking a turning point for the movement working to further de-legitimize the fossil fuel industry. In South Africa, where the divestment movement of the 1980’s played an important role in bringing down the Apartheid regime, there will be a special focus on targeting some of the country’s largest banks, who are playing a crucial role in financing Africa’s growing addiction to fossil fuels.
Students across the United States and the United Kingdom are planning sit-ins and “flash-mobs” on campus. Activists in Japan, Nepal, Philippines, France and Ukraine are targeting new institutions calling on them to divest.
In Sydney, London and New York, campaigners will gather to raise awareness about the threat of a carbon bubble. In California, activists are launching a major new campaign to target the state’s pension funds. Across Australia, people will be pulling their money out of banks that finance coal mining in the country.
“The fossil fuel divestment movement has grown exponentially over the last two years--now it’s going global,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org. “From the Pacific Islands to South Africa, from the United States to Germany, people are standing up and challenging the power of the fossil fuel industry. We know that fossil fuels are the past and clean energy is the future.”
The fossil fuel divestment campaign launched in the United States in 2012. Since then, it has quickly spread around the world, especially in Europe and Australia. An Oxford University research called the effort the fastest growing divestment campaign in history, one that could have a “far reaching impact” on the industry’s bottom line. Since the campaign began, over twenty colleges and universities, dozens of religious institutions, and numerous cities have committed to divest. Together, the institutions represent over $USD50 billion in assets. In the last 6 months alone, more than 30 institutions have divested.
Last year the divestment campaign reached the Pacific with the launch of the campaign targeting ANZ.
"The activities of the fossil fuel industry are sinking our Islands. But we are not drowning - we are fighting. I encourage people everywhere to support our fight by divesting from the fossil fuel industry," Isso Nihmei, Pacific Climate Warrior, Vanuatu.
Campaigners who have focused on making the moral case for divestment, saw that over the last three months falling oil prices have also bolstered their case. As Rolling Stone wrote in January, “the quixotic campus campaign suddenly has the smell of smart money.” Now, investors are increasingly voicing their concerns about the fossil fuel industry’s long term financial viability, and opposing new capital expenditures aimed at discovering new coal, oil and gas reserves.
In the words of Naomi Klein, acclaimed author and journalist: “We're in a much better situation to win but we need to understand that this is a window. This is the last moment to be complacent."
The day will also cast a spotlight on a new, growing part of the divestment campaign: reinvestment. Activists are increasingly calling on their institutions to not only divest from the fossil fuel industry, but reinvest their money in just and sustainable energy solutions, with a particular focus on initiatives that support communities most impacted by climate change and the dirty energy based economy. Through divestment, activists in the Global South are also looking to challenge existing development policies tied to continued exploitation of fossil fuels at the expense of protecting people and planet.
“The existing high carbon development model largely benefits powerful industries and the wealthier segments of society while poor and vulnerable communities continue to carry the brunt of climate impacts” said Yossi Cadan, Global Divestment Senior Campaigner for 350.org. “We know climate change is the biggest global threat of the 21st century leading health organisations to join the call for divestment.”
While activists still face an uphill battle at many institutions, divestment campaigners are fired up about the year ahead. The campaign has succeeded in sparking an increasingly high profile debate and campaigners are confident that in 2015 they will continue to de-legitimize investments in this rogue industry, successfully moving more money out of these fossil fuel companies and into bold solutions. Global Divestment Day will be another step in the right direction.
The Global Divestment Day builds on the momentum from last September’s People’s Climate March, which brought together over 400,000 people in the streets of New York City and hundreds of thousands more around the world. Organizers see divestment as a key strategy in the lead up to the UN Climate Talks in Paris, as well.
“Divestment serves as a key tool in moving the world beyond fossil fuels and towards renewable energy,” said Payal Parekh, Global Managing Director for 350.org. “The divestment movement is modeling what governments need to be doing: withdrawing funds from the problem and investing in solutions. That’s the best way to ensure a brighter future for both people and planet.”
[IMAGES] Pacific climate warriors blockade the world's largest coal port at Newcastle, Australia. 350.org
For the best images from around the world on Global Divestment Day, please visit this link