In a letter on Tuesday morning sent from Stockholm, Sweden—where on Monday night he accepted a Right Livelihood Award on behalf of himself and the climate action group 350.org—the journalist turned activist Bill McKibben announced that in addition to donating the prize money to the group he co-founded with former students, he will also be stepping down as chair of the organization's board of directors.
"We have found our will to fight, and that gives us a fighting chance to win." —Bill McKibben, 350.org"No one should run a board forever," said McKibben in a blog post on the 350.org website that also went out to supporters of the group. McKibben vowed to remain highly active in the organization, retaining a seat on the board and acting as a senior adviser. "Don’t worry," he told members. "I’ll still be there when the time comes to go to jail, or to march in the streets, or to celebrate the next big win on divestment."
Offering credit to all the staff and volunteers who have made 350.org the premiere climate action group in the world, McKibben wrote:
Our goal, always, has been to build campaigns that volunteers around the planet can make their own, and that’s what we’ll keep doing. In truth, it’s been the great joy of my working life to be a volunteer here at 350.org, just like all of you. I’m looking forward to the next 25 years—the quarter century that will decide whether we make progress enough to preserve our civilizations. Together we’ve built a movement; now, together, we’ll deploy it to confront the greatest crisis we’ve ever faced. 2014 will be the hottest year in the planet’s history; that means we have to make 2015 the politically hottest season the fossil fuel industry has ever come up against, and 2016 after that, and….
We have found our will to fight, and that gives us a fighting chance to win. I’m happy to be here in Stockholm accepting this prize on our behalf, but for me it will be the biggest honor of all simply to be shoulder to shoulder with you as we go into battle.
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The environmental campaigner—who wrote one of the first popular books on climate change, titled End of Nature in 1998, before initiating 350.org in 2007—was one of five recipients of this year’s Right Livelihoods awards, given to those offering "exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing" humanity and the planet. His co-laureates this year were NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger who shared a joint Honorary Award; human rights activist Asma Jahangir of Pakistan; and Basil Fernando and the Asian Human Rights Commission from Hong Kong.
In his acceptance speech for the award, McKibben stated, "We simply must defeat those forces that want to delay large-scale change so they can have a decade or two more profit. There’s no ducking that fight: If you invest in fossil fuel companies, you profit from the destruction of the earth. That’s the definition of dirty money. Those who invest in fossil fuel companies are making a wager that the world will do nothing to combat climate change. That’s an immoral wager."
Regarding his prize money, approximately 660,000 Swedish Krona (or US$88,500), McKibben donated the complete amount to 350.org and its partner organizations. "This money will be used to support 350.org's various fights against the fossil fuel industry, from Australia to Alberta. It still leaves us a tiny bit short of Exxon's wealth, but since most of us - me included - are volunteers, the money goes a long way!"