The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
10 Incredible Moments in 2015: A Landmark Year in Climate Action
We've really been on a roll this year.
And when I say we I don't just mean 350.org the organization. I mean this big, broad movement we've built together—you, me, 350’s many partner organizations, the hundreds of local groups we work with every day and all the many individuals around the world who take action in ways large and small.
This was such a landmark year that we had a really hard time picking just 10 things for the list below. In fact, it really seems like we're getting close to a sort of climate-action tipping point.
Of course, we're not kidding ourselves into thinking that the fossil fuel industry is going to sit back and let it all happen. (In fact, the Secretary-General of Europe's coal lobby recently accused the European Commission of being “in cahoots with protest movements” and called for the creation of a "less ambitious" climate plan in 2016).
People and companies that benefit from the status quo will pull us backwards if we let them—so we can't let them. Can you help us continue this fight in 2016?
Next year, we're taking on the fossil fuel industry more directly than ever, as well as keeping the pressure on world governments to "close the gap" between the commitments they made in Paris and what the science actually says the world needs. I think next year is going to be at least as amazing as this one.
For now, because everyone loves a good list, here are the top 10 amazing things we did together in 2015 (in no particular order):
1. We Showed That We Are Greater Than Tar Sands
Throughout North America, the fight to stop the Canadian tar sands reached a fever pitch this year. Led by First Nations and other Indigenous groups and backed up by farmers, ranchers, labor unions and organizers in every corner of the continent, this movement stalled pipelines, called out hypocrisy and took to the streets for events like Toronto’s "March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate" and a “Climate Welcome” for new Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.
2. We Made Fracking a Contentious Political Issue in Brazil
The campaign to ban fracking in Brazil heated up big time—to the point that organizers started to feel some serious pressure from industry and the government. From interrupting a fracking auction with Indigenous voices to sparking protests at Brazilian embassies around the world, our team in Brazil is causing a stir.
3. We Shut Down One of the Biggest Coal Mines in Europe
To be fair, it was just for a day ... but nobody’s stopping there. The "Ende Gelände" action—translated as "here and no further"—was organized by grassroots climate activists to shut down the Garzweiler lignite mine in Germany. Most of the 1,500 people who participated in this epic act of civil disobedience had never done anything like it before.
4. We Pulled the Rug Out from Under Australia’s Biggest Coal Project
Our friends at 350 Australia—along with a big coalition of partners—helped pressure more than 14 banks to pull funding from Adani’s proposed giant coal mine in the Galilee Basin.
5. We Pushed California to Divest the U.S.' Second Largest Pension Fund
Divestment activists in California worked hard to pass a precedent-setting bill to divest the state’s two huge pension funds from coal, which together total half a trillion dollars. Up next: working even harder to divest from all fossil fuels.
6. We Called Out One the Richest, Most Powerful Corporations on the Planet
They really deserved it. After the revelations earlier this year that Exxon knew about the impacts of climate change nearly 40 years ago, we shone a spotlight on their criminal campaign of deception and denial. Along with many of our partners and allies, we’ve asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate Exxon for their cover-up. And we’re going to keep pressing.
7. We Mobilized Against "Free Trade" Agreements that Consolidate Corporate Power
From the U.S. to the Philippines, we stood strong against "free trade" agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Agreements like these are often negotiated in secret and put corporate interests over people's well-being.
8. We Raised the Bar on Divestment Commitments—to $3.4 Trillion (and Counting!)
2015 was a great year for the fossil fuel divestment movement. Global Divestment Day in February saw hundreds of events around the world, students escalated their campaigns on campus throughout the early part of the year and a snowballing of divestment commitments ahead of the Paris climate summit brought the new count to $3.4 trillion in managed assets committed to divestment.
9. We Stopped the Keystone XL Pipeline
President Obama may have struck the final blow, but it was the climate movement that stopped the world’s most notorious pipeline. When we started fighting this thing, they said it was a done deal. It was a long, hard fight, but it was worth it. Let that be a lesson to all the pipeline builders, coal financiers and frackers of the world: Don’t bet against the climate movement. We’re playing for keeps.
10. We Helped Make the Paris Climate Agreement Happen
The Paris climate agreement doesn’t get us where the world needs to be. But we have a deal and that’s extraordinary. Although our plans had to change following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November, the climate movement really came together before and during the big summit—for the Global Climate March on Nov. 29, which brought 775,000 people into the streets in more than 2,300 places around the world and for the final mobilization in Paris at the end of the talks. Now it’s up to us to close the gap between the rhetoric of the deal and the reality of this crisis. And we’re ready.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."
By Grace Francese
Outbreaks of potentially toxic algae are fouling lakes, rivers and other bodies of water across the U.S. Nationally, news reports of algae outbreaks have been on the rise since 2010.