Most of you have probably heard about the People’s Climate March in NYC and across the globe on September 21st. Over 800 supporting groups are using their collective resources to pull it together, and tens of thousands of people from different backgrounds are expected to rally in NYC for the largest climate march in history. People across the world have planned solidarity events in over 2700 locations. When I first heard about the march a few months ago, I was very excited, and knew I would find a way to be there- ideally with many of my good friends working on divestment and other climate justice campaigns.
So why is this massive mobilization so critical? As a society, we’re largely ignoring the laws of science that govern our climate and planet; there are natural limits that we're on our way to breaking (or have sadly already broken) and that is unacceptable. We can't plead ignorance or uncertainly any longer; the overwhelming scientific consensus is that our green house gas emissions are responsible for the increasing imbalance in the natural cycles that normally regulate our climate. Our policies and practices need to evolve to reflect our improved understanding of the earth’s systems- right now both are lagging behind the necessary environmental standard.
I am working towards living more sustainably to reduce my own ecological footprint, but I know that individual actions are near pointless if you don't back them up with efforts to produce change at the societal level. As much as I love my bike and the work that my worms do in my vermicomposter, they're not going to solve the climate crisis alone. Although humans created the problem, we also have the collective power and knowledge to solve it. It is absolutely necessary that we shift away from fossil fuels and towards a low-carbon future immediately, and to do this, we need to use a variety of tactics to put strategic pressure on the system, particularly key decision-makers.
That's why I'm working with Divest McGill, and that's why we’re bringing our friends with us down to NYC. By extending a personal invitation to international leaders for a climate summit aimed towards mobilizing action (and pledging to march himself), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has set the stage for a powerful statement; both by grassroots organizers and the politicians who will hear our amplified voices. On September 21st, we’ll show international leaders that we the people support decisive, effective and immediate climate action. We all need to take responsibility to be part of the solution, and build a beautiful, diverse and bold climate movement. I encourage you to get engaged however you can; it's not an exaggeration to say that our future depends on it.
Love and hope,
Kristen Perry, Divest McGill Organizer and Environmental Science student at McGill University
Earlier this month, five delegates from Divest Dalhousie attended the 2nd annual Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence held at San Francisco State University.
Liv, Levi, Rylie, Stephen and Katie connected with over 200 other fossil fuel divestment campaigners, and want to share their experiences with campaigners in Canada. Over the coming weeks, each of the delegates will be posting their reflections on the convergence on their website.
Liv is the first of the delegates to be profiled on the Divest Dal the website. Read her story here.
About a year and a half ago, Bill McKibben wrote an article in Rolling Stone magazine outlining the climate crisis and urging the world to take action against its main perpetrator, the fossil fuel industry. This call to action saw the conception of over 400 divestment campaigns around the world, and six months later, gave birth to Divest McGill.
If you’re a student at McGill today, you most likely grew up learning about climate change and the myriad of environmental crises facing our planet. But it can be hard to appreciate just how urgent climate change is.
Originally published in the Trent Arthur
How’s this for a new year’s resolution, Trent? Let’s become the first university in Canada to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
If you aren’t convinced yet, you may not know about a major economic risk associated with fossil fuel investments: the carbon bubble.
In 2009, governments from around the world gathered in Copenhagen for the annual climate conference put on by the United Nations. These meetings are put on so that governments can discuss strategies and goals to address climate change. The conference in Copenhagen was particularly hyped as it took place during a time when public concern and media coverage of climate change was very high, so expectations of the event were significant.
On November 16th, thousands of Canadians will gather in nine cities to oppose runaway climate change and fossil fuel expansion. From the Pacific to Atlantic coasts, citizens will call on governments to defend our communities and maintain a safe and just climate for all generations. Many of those attending are also calling on their churches, pensions, schools and cities to end investment in businesses that damage the climate and threaten our communities.
Why should this matter to students at Simon Fraser University?
It has been almost two weeks since the Tar Sands Reality Check tour ended, and I’m still reeling a bit from the experience. The heady mix of engaging with excited crowds at our events and constant news of resistance, from protests at the National Energy Board Line 9 hearings to the Mikmaq anti-fracking blockade, was an enormous amount of energy packed into one week. The end of the tour feels like it is more of a launching point into a new phase of climate activism.
In the 2013 Speech from the throne, Stephen Harper and the Conservative government endorsed divestment. Sort of.
The speech, meant to scare Canadians into supporting rapid pipeline expansion, threatened that a lack of export capacity could turn the tar sands in stranded assets. It went on to raise the alarm that if too much time passes without expansion, international markets will close to tar sands crude.
He's actually right. Over the past year studies from HSBC, Standard & Poor, the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, Carbon Tracker and more have began to raise the alarm about a concept called the "Carbon Bubble."
This is the text of remarks I made today to Vancouver city council on divestment. Earlier this year, Council requested that staff report back on how the city's financial investments align with the city's mission and values, and various ethical programs like the city's purchasing policy and the greenest city initiative. So the meeting was essentially about the contents of the staff report.
The outcome of the meeting was a small victory for divestment. Council recommended:
THAT the City Clerk be instructed to notify the Municipal Pension Board in writing of City Council's position on responsible investing and encourage the Municipal Pension Plan (MPP) to continue their advancement of responsible investing using the UN Principles of Responsible Investment to further align the MPP investment portfolio with the City's mission, values and the sustainable and ethical considerations outlined in the City's procurement policy.
Vancouver's Council considered a responsible investing motion on October 9th, 2013, after learning from city staff that its provincially-managed pension fund was heavily invested fossil fuel, tobacco and mining companies. The bank and credit union companies directly held by the City also fail to disclose their exposure to climate risk and carbon liabilities.
I spoke to Council and along with several other speakers urged them to adopt a fossil fuel divestment policy. Although Council declined to adopt a divestment commitment today, they seriously and thoughtfully engaged speakers about the issue and have asked city staff to report back with plans for screening investments and steps that should lead to divestment in the City's pension fund.
I am very encouraged that Vancouver is starting down the path to full divestment, joining cities like Seattle and San Francisco that are already on their way.
Below is the text of my comments to Council: