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'Global Mobilizer for Change': Bill McKibben Wins Prestigious Sofie Prize

Norway's Sofie Prize recognizes founder as an "enormous mobilizing force" for change

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

This year's prestigious Sofie Prize winner, Bill McKibben, speaking at the International Day of Climate Action in Times Square, NYC. (Photo: Mat McDermott/ Flickr)

Bill McKibben—noted environmentalist, scholar, founder of and champion behind the growing campaign to divest from fossil fuels—has been awarded Norway's prestigious Sofie Prize for his commitment to the fight to preserve a sustainable planet.

"This planet desperately needs a global mobilizer for change," the committee writes, adding, "in only a few years [McKibben] has demonstrated an enormous mobilizing force."

The press statement continues:

As an activist he is pioneering new methods of social protests, using among others Internet-enabled organizing strategies to increase the intensity of political activity. Fighting immensely powerful interests McKibben has shown that mobilization for change is possible. This brings hope.


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This year’s Sophie Prize Winner underlines, however, that fast collective action is urgently needed to avoid an increase in temperature that our civilization can’t handle.

Along with the honor, McKibben was awarded $100,000 by the Norwegian cultural committee. The Sophie Prize was created in 1997 to "reward efforts for a sustainable future."

The committee sites numerous campaigns McKibben has spearheaded to promote political change:

  • In 2009, 5200 simultaneous demonstrations were organized in 181 countries. The event was described by the Foreign Policy magazine “the largest ever global coordinated rally of any kind”.
  • In 2011 and 2012 McKibben has fronted a massive campaign against the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project intended to link the Canadian Tar Sands oil fields with the Gulf of Mexico refineries and distribution centers. James E. Hansen has described an approval of this pipeline as “game over for this planet”. The massive mobilization has so far put the approval on hold. President Barack Obama is expected to approve or reject the pipeline this Summer or Fall.
  • A road show in the USA to build a movement strong enough to change the terrifying math of the climate crisis. The Do the Math Tour, starting in November 2012, was a massive success, with sold out shows in every corner of the US.
  • In February 2013 about 50 000 people marched past the White House and demanded that President Barack Obama take action to limit greenhouse gases. This was the biggest climate change rally in the U.S. history.
  • A fossil-fuel university divestment campaign. By February 2012 more than 300 student groups have formed official campaigns on campuses across the United States.

"Climate change is the single biggest thing humans have ever done on this planet," said McKibben. "The only thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it."


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