'Take our planet, and we'll take your money.'
This is the warning 10 cities across the U.S. are issuing the fossil fuel industry as the campaign to divest from the industry wreaking havoc on the planet gains steam.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn joined climate group 350.org and the Mayors Innovation Project on Thursday in officially launching their city and state fossil fuel divestment campaign, cheering the 10 cities that have already joined and urging other cities to commit to the climate action as well.
“Divestment is just one of the steps we can take to address the climate crisis,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “Cities that do so will be leaders in creating a new model for quality of life, environmental sustainability and economic success. We’ve got a head start on that here in Seattle, but there’s a lot more work to do.”
According to 350.org, Seattle joins Madison, Wis., Bayfield, Wis, Ithaca, NY, Boulder, Colo., State College, Pa, Eugene, Ore., Richmond, Calif., Berkeley, Calif., and San Francisco in divesting from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
Today’s announcement 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.
Further, says the group, it sends the message that
if it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s also wrong to profit from that wreckage.
In addition to the 10 cities already committed to the divestment, 350.org says 100 other cities and states also have divestment petitions in the works.
College campuses were leaders in pushing fossil fuel divestment, with Unity College in Maine and Hampshire College in Massachusetts pledging to divest their endowments from oil, gas and coal companies. 350.org reports that Sterling College and College of the Atlantic have also agreed to divestment, and the efforts are gaining traction at hundreds of other college campuses.
“It's so fitting that American cities are taking the lead in the fight to weaken the fossil fuel industry's political power,” Bill McKibben, noted environmentalist, author and founder of 350.org, said in a statement. “Since every city public works department is already spending scads of cash to deal with the gathering storms and rising seas climate change is bringing, it's clear it makes no sense for them to also prop up the industries that make it necessary.”
As the fossil fuel divestment campaign is modeled after the anti-apartheid divestment campaigns of the 1980s, the message Nobel Prize-winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu gave 350.org at the start of their own divestment campaign is powerful:
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.