Press

For Media Inquiries Contact:

Daniel Kessler, 350.org, (510) 501-1779, dk@350.org

Jamie Henn, 350.org, (415) 601-9337, jamie@350.org


Updates from the Road – Click Here to Read the Blog


Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 29, 2012

Over 100 Colleges and Universities Join 350.org Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign

As Bill McKibben’s Do The Math tour sells out venues across the country, the call for divestment spreads nationwide

OAKLAND, CA — Over 100 campuses across the country have joined a new campaign from 350.org calling on colleges and universities to divest their endowments, estimated at a total of $400 billion nationwide, from the fossil fuel industry. (1)

The new campaign is being sparked by Bill McKibben and 350.org’s “Do The Math” tour, an effort to connect the dots between extreme weather, climate change, and the fossil fuel industry. The 21-city tour kicked off on November 7 in Seattle and has sold out every venue it’s visited. (2)

“We’ve felt serious momentum along this transcontinental roadshow — but the numbers of full-on divestment campaigns got larger faster than we could have dreamed,” said McKibben. “A year notable for ice-melt, parched crops, and superstorms is going out with a different kind of bang: an explosion in activism, aimed squarely at the rogue fossil fuel industry.”

From big state schools like the University of Michigan to small liberal arts colleges like Amherst, students have taken up the cause. At a number of schools, such as Swarthmore, students have already met with their boards of trustees to discuss proposals; at others, like the University of New Hampshire, activists have gathered thousands of petition signatures calling for action. Earlier this month, an official Harvard student resolution supporting divestment passed with 72% of the vote. (3)

“Students are the sleeping giant that rose to end apartheid and fight for many other just causes,” wrote Harvard sophomore Alli Welton in a blog for The Nation. “Now more and more students are mobilizing against business as usual in the fossil fuel industry.” (4)

Hurricane Sandy, and the string of extreme weather events that preceded it, have provided a new sense of urgency for many student activists. At a Do The Math tour stop in Los Angeles, over 100 students from the five Claremont Colleges rallied with a banner that read “Hurricane Sandy Says: Divest the West.”

The Go Fossil Free campaign is specifically calling for institutions to immediately freeze new investments in the 200 corporations that hold the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves and divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds.

The effort has scored a number of early victories. At the Do the Math tour stop in Seattle, the Mayor committed to studying how the city could divest from fossil fuels. Just days later, Unity College in Maine announced that it would divest its entire endowment from fossil fuels.

“I am proud to be a part of the 350.org program of divestment, and I am especially proud of the Unity College Board of Trustees for their willingness to make this affiliation,” wrote Unity College President Stephen Mulkey in an oped announcing the move. “Like the colleges and universities of the 1980’s that disinvested from apartheid South African interests – and successfully pressured the South African government to dismantle the apartheid system – we must be willing to exclude fossil fuels from our investment portfolios.” (5)

Over 155 colleges and universities, and dozens of states, cities, and pension funds, eventually divested from apartheid South Africa. The current fossil fuel divestment effort has received the blessings from one of the anti-apartheid movements greatest champions, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“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,” said Tutu in a video for the campaign. “Climate change is a deeply moral issue too, of course. Here in Africa we see the dreadful suffering of people from worsening drought, from rising food prices, from floods, even though they’ve done nothing to cause the situation. Once again, we can join together as a world and put pressure where it counts.”

For McKibben and 350.org, the impetus for the new divestment campaign was a series of reports that laid out the terrifying new math of the climate crisis. To keep global warming below 2°Celsius, a target the United States and nearly every other country on Earth has agreed to, scientists say we can emit roughly 500 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The fossil fuel industry, however, has over 2700 gigatons of CO2 stored in their reserves, more than five times too much. (6)

“What this math shows is that the fossil fuel industry is a rogue industry,” said McKibben. “You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet – but now that we know the numbers, it looks like you can’t have both.”

350.org is leading the new fossil fuel divestment campaign with a coalition of allies that include the Energy Action Coalition, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, the Sierra Student Coalition, and As You Sow.

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Notes:
1. A full list of campuses who have joined the campaign, visit: gofossilfree.org/campaigns
2. More information on the Do The Math tour, visit: math.350.org
3. More information on the Harvard divestment vote: 350.org/media/nov19-harvard
4. The Nation, “Students Call for Divestment From the Fossil Fuel Industry”: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171245/students-call-divestment-fossil-fuel-industry
5. Unity College announcement:
http://sustainabilitymonitor.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/unity-college-board-of-trustees-votes-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels/
6. More on the terrifying carbon math: http://www.carbontracker.org/carbonbubble


IEA Confirms Bill McKibben’s “Do The Math” Numbers

Oakland — Today the International Energy Agency released its World Energy Outlook and confirmed estimates that the overwhelming majority of known fossil fuel reserves (75-80%) will have to be kept in the ground to avoid 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise. 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who is on a national tour discussing this math, issued the following statement:

“A week after we launched the nationwide “Do The Math” tour, the planet’s chief energy watchdogs put out a huge report that essentially confirms what we’ve been saying: most of the carbon in the fossil fuel industry’s reserves has to stay below the ground if we’re going to keep the planet from disastrously overheating.(1)

“For American leaders, keeping carbon in the ground means blocking the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, stopping coal ports on the Pacific Coast, ending mountaintop removal, and cracking down on rampant fracking. Easy long-term gestures aren’t enough any more; we’ve delayed so long that we have to stop exploiting new extreme energy.

“This is the basic, horrifying math of the planet we live on. Business as usual will bust it–that’s why we’re on the road all month and why a divestment campaign is suddenly building out of nowhere.(2)

“Our math–from Rolling Stone and 350.org–is suddenly the mainstream math. It’s the fossil fuel industry that’s the outlying radical fringe.”

CONTACT: Daniel Kessler, 350.org, +1 510-501-1779.

NOTES:

1. More information on the tour is at math.350.org.

2. 350.org and partners are building a nation-wide campus divestment movement. Endowments at the country’s universities exceed $400 billion and they should not be invested in an industry that is cooking the planet. More information is at http://gofossilfree.org/.

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 6, 2012

Bill McKibben & 350.org Kick-Off Nationwide “Do The Math” Tour to Connect Extreme Weather, Climate Change and the Fossil Fuel Industry

Tour will Launch a New Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign 

Seattle, WA — As the East Coast continues to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, leading environmentalist Bill McKibben and the global climate campaign 350.org are kicking off a 21-city nationwide Do the Math tour that will connect the dots between extreme weather, climate change, and the fossil fuel industry.

“It’s time to start holding the fossil fuel industry accountable for the wholesale damage they’re doing to our planet,” said McKibben. “If Sandy showed us anything, it’s that the hour is late and the need is urgent–but the fossil fuel industry has terrified our politicians and the result has been two decades of inaction. We need that to change.”

The tour will launch a new chapter in the fight against climate change: direct confrontation with the fossil fuel industry. At the heart of the effort will be a new campaign to push colleges and universities to divest their endowments from the fossil fuels.

Part TED-talk, part old-time revival meeting, the tour has already sold out stops in Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Boston. Hundreds of students will be attending stops in big college towns like Madison, Wisconsin, Durham, North Carolina, and Boulder, Colorado.

McKibben was driven to organize the Do The Math tour after watching the string of extreme weather events that ravaged much of the US this year, from the devastating wildfires in Colorado, to record drought across much of the country, to the seemingly endless heat-wave that broke over 17,000 temperature records.

While the abnormal weather helped drive America’s concern over climate change to its highest level since 2008 – 70 percent of Americans now say they believe global warming is a reality – the message didn’t seem to break through to politicians. The words climate change weren’t mentioned a single time during the presidential debates for the first time since 1988.

McKibben points his finger at the fossil fuel industry as the key culprit. “The fossil fuel industry has bought one party in Washington, DC and scared the other into silence,” he said. “Unless we can weaken the power of this industry, we’ll never see the sort of climate progress we need.”

The Do The Math tour will make it clear why the fossil fuel industry is so determined to block progress. As McKibben wrote in a groundbreaking article in Rolling Stone this June, the climate crisis can be boiled down into three simple numbers: 2°C, 565 gigatonnes, and 2,795 gigatonnes.

Even the most conservative governments in the world have agreed that global warming should be limited to no more than 2°C. Scientists say to meet that target we can only emit an additional 565 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But the fossil fuel industry has 2795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide in their reserves, nearly five times too much — and everyday they spend millions of dollars looking for more.

“What this math shows is that the fossil fuel industry is a rogue industry,” said McKibben. “You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet – but now that we know the numbers, it looks like you can’t have both.”

McKibben and 350.org are modelling their new campaign against the fossil fuel industry on the 1980s anti-apartheid movement that used divestment as a key tactic to pressure the South African government. In the end, 155 colleges and universities and a number of pension funds, cities, and corporations disinvested from the country.

In a video he recorded for the Do The Math tour, South Africa’s Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the anti-apartheid movement, explained the rationale for turning to divestment as a key strategy to fight climate change.

“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,” says Tutu. “Climate change is a deeply moral issue too, of course. Here in Africa we see the dreadful suffering of people from worsening drought, from rising food prices, from floods, even though they’ve done nothing to cause the situation. Once again, we can join together as a world and put pressure where it counts.”

The campaign has already chalked up its first divestment victory, with Unity College officially announcing it would divestment from fossil fuels on Monday, November 5.

“I am proud to be a part of the 350.org program of divestment, and I am especially proud of the Unity College Board of Trustees for their willingness to make this affiliation,” wrote Unity College President Stephen Mulkey in an oped announcing the move. “Like the colleges and universities of the 1980’s that disinvested from apartheid South African interests – and successfully pressured the South African government to dismantle the apartheid system – we must be willing to exclude fossil fuels from our investment portfolios.”

Last year, Hampshire College in Massachusetts passed a sustainable investment policy that effectively divested the college endowment from fossil fuels. 350.orgwill be working with a coalition of groups including the Responsible Endowments Coalition, Sustainable Endowments Institute, Energy Action Coalition, Sierra Student Coalition, and As You Sow to build on these early victories and spread the movement across the country over the coming months.

Taking on the fossil fuel industry is a natural evolution for 350.org, the global climate campaign that McKibben founded with six Middlebury College students in 2008. In 2009, the group organized more than 5,200 rallies in 183 that CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” In 2011, 350.org helped lead a successful campaign to push President Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, getting 1,253 people arrested at the White House in August and then circling the property with 15,000 people in November.

“Over the last three years, we’ve learned a lot about how to use the internet to coordinate a distributed grassroots network,” said 350.org co-founder and executive director, May Boeve. “This year, we’ll be going at the fossil fuel industry from all angles: campus divestment, mass mobilization, and online campaigns.”

The Do The Math tour will begin on November 7 in Seattle, Washington. Beginning the day after the election is intentional explained McKibben, “Congress has essentially turned into a customer service arm for the fossil fuel industry, putting environmentalists on hold for 20 years with the beltway equivalent of cheesy Muzak. It’s time to talk directly to management.”

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More information on the tour is available at math.350.org.

Contact: Daniel Kessler, 350.org, 1-510-501-1779, dk@350.org

Notes to the editor:

1. http://www.carbontracker.org/carbonbubble

2. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719


Recent Press Coverage: 

National Journal, “‘Man Who Crushed Keystone’ Is Targeting Fossil Fuels in Anti-Apartheid-Style Campaign” 

Politico, “Bill McKibben: Hurricane Sandy a ‘wake-up call’ on climate change”

Grist, “Cue the math: McKibben’s roadshow takes aim at Big Oil”

The Nation, “Do the Math: Help Halt Climate Change”

Portland Tribune, “McKibben’s 350.org brings ‘Do the Math’ tour to Portland”

Democracy Now, “Bill McKibben on Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: “If There Was Ever a Wake-up Call, This Is It”