In Face of Government Apathy, Activists Launch Wave of Global Divestment Actions
'The movement is stepping up at a time when governments are failing their people and climate impacts are taking us into uncharted territory'
Intensifying the global demand for nations and institutions to move away from fossil fuels, campaigners on Friday are launching ten days of direct actions calling for divestment from the companies most responsible for the climate crisis.
From New Zealand to South Africa to Ecuador and beyond, thousands are expected to take part in the Global Divestment Mobilization, which will include actions in 39 countries across six continents.
For instance, rallies targeting Commbank in Brisbane and Canberra, Australia on Friday called on the banking giant to "stop funding dirty coal" and divest from the Adani mine.
— 350Australia (@350Australia) May 5, 2017
Students from South Africa's Stellenbosch University are meanwhile delivering an open letter to the administration calling for divestment as well as a commitment to addressing the crisis of climate change. "Africa is the continent that climate change is predicted to hit the hardest, and its impoverished and poor will be disproportionately affected," read a statement by the student activist group. "Fossil Free Stellenbosch would like to convey a sense of how Stellenbosch can fulfill its mandate to be inclusive, innovative, and future focused, by becoming the first university on the African continent to commit to divest its endowment of fossil fuel stock."
Meanwhile, activists in Jakarta, Indonesia are holding a divestment event that will bring together people from diverse backgrounds, including students, professionals, and people from communities already impacted by global warming, to discuss ideas to bring about a "cleaner energy future."
And in Europe, the Green Party on Friday launched a new chapter of its #DivestEurope campaign, which will focus each month on one of the continent's major polluters to highlight "why it is necessary to withdraw capital" from these companies.
— European Greens (@europeangreens) May 5, 2017
"Climate change is not a future danger, it is happening: 16 of the 17 hottest years in history were recorded after 2000, and 2016 was the hottest year on record, marking a new high for the third year in a row," said European Green Party co-chairs Reinhard Bütikofer and Monica Frassoni.
"And yet," they continue, "climate change is currently an item low on the European and international agenda—which is short-sighted and disastrous. Many of the world's conflicts have direct relations to climate change consequences—and many more will, if climate change is not limited. The future is fossil free, or there is no future."
From sidewalk conversations about the dangers of fossil fuels to massive rallies, campaigners across the world are taking the opportunity to amplify the call for divestment.
— Chang Liangyi (@LiangyiChang) May 5, 2017
While the focus is global, the international campaign says that its mission is even more urgent with President Donald Trump threatening the United States' climate commitment by repealing domestic regulations and efforts to undermine the Paris climate agreement. The Trump administration has been resolute in its denial of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and has doggedly pursued more drilling, coal burning, and overall fossil fuel production.
Highlighting his outsized role in the growing crisis, activists in New York City on Tuesday are holding a teach-in and rally at the public terrace inside Trump Tower.
— Fossil Free (@GoFossilFree) May 5, 2017
"The rise of radical right-wing politics in different parts of the world is creating a slowdown in climate action, which we can't afford," reads a statement from the global divestment campaign. "The truth is that the fossil fuel industry is floundering, and is no longer profitable. Despite this it has found a lifeline in places like Germany, Russia, South Africa, Brazil, the U.K., and the U.S. and together they're planning a full-out assault on our climate and our lives."
At the same time, the organizers note, "global commitments to divest have already reached 710 institutions across 76 countries, representing well over US$5.5 trillion in assets under management."
"In the current vacuum of global climate leadership, the divestment movement has proven to be the most effective way to undermine the power of the fossil fuel industry politically, financially and by damaging its reputation," the statement continues. "The movement is stepping up at a time when governments are failing their people and climate impacts are taking us into uncharted territory in terms of floods, forest fires, heatwaves, storms, and drought."
Throughout the 10-day protest, images and information will be shared with the hashtag #FossilFree.