Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Bill McKibben: Pope's Arrival Brings Minor Miracles on the Climate Front

Climate

I’m not a Catholic, but credit where credit is due: at the very least Tuesday’s arrival in America of the people’s Pope coincided with a small brace of minor miracles on the climate front.

Early on Tuesday morning, Divest-Invest announced at press conference in New York that the new total of assets in endowments and portfolios divesting from fossil fuels has topped $2.6 trillion. That’s a 50-fold increase on last year’s number—and the year before that, we had precisely one college on board, with an endowment of $13 million.

That news might have passed somewhat unnoticed except that a handsome lad by the name of Leonardo DiCaprio announced at the same time that he was divesting his own assets and those of his charitable foundation—which for some reason seemed of interest to our planet’s news media, go figure.

And then, literally as the papal plane landed, Hillary Clinton completed her long-running metamorphosis on the Keystone pipeline. Before the pipeline review even began, many long years ago, she said she was “inclined to approve” this fuse to one of the planet’s biggest carbon bombs. But as KXL turned into the defining environmental fight of the decade, she went mum. And now, faced with the clear understanding that climate will be a defining issue in next year’s election, she came out in firm opposition to the plan.

It’s not really divine intervention that moved the former Secretary of State (who had originally gamed the State Department review process to approve the project). It was hard hard organizing—thousands went to jail, hundreds of thousands marched, millions wrote public comments. And that work has gone far beyond this one pipeline: its helped turn almost every fossil fuel infrastructure project on the planet into a full-on battle.

Bernie Sanders played his part too. He’s made no direct criticism of Hillary, but he has pointed out regularly how odd it is she has no position on this key issue. As he rose in the polls, her determination to dodge the issue clearly wavered.

But the Pope did help too: his powerful encyclical last summer is a reminder to every politician of exactly which way the wind is now blowing. That wind is in the sails of the climate movement now and so there will be more days like this to come. Whether they come in time to slow the planet’s careening new physics is an open question, but at last the political and financial climate has begun to change almost as fast as the physical one.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges to Divest From Fossil Fuels as Movement Grows 50-Fold in One Year

Koch Brothers: Apocalyptical Forces of Ignorance and Greed, Says RFK Jr.

Climate Deniers Attack ‘Rock Star’ Pope as ‘Nature-Worshipping Pagan’ Amid U.S. Visit

96 Cities That Are Quitting Fossil Fuels and Moving Toward 100% Renewable Energy

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Activists of Greenpeace and Fridays For Future demonstrate on a canal in front of the cooling tower of the coal-fired power plant Datteln 4 of power supplier Uniper in Datteln, western Germany, on May 20. INA FASSBENDER / AFP / Getty Images

The Bundestag and Bundesrat — Germany's lower and upper houses of parliament — passed legislation on Friday that would phase out coal use in the country in less than two decades as part of a road map to reduce carbon emissions.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Tara Lohan

Would you like to take a crack at solving climate change? Or at least creating a road map of how we could do it?

Read More Show Less
Climate campaigners and Indigenous peoples across Canada have spent the past several years protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline. Mark Klotz / Flickr / cc

By Elana Sulakshana

Rainforest Action Network recently uncovered a document that lists the 11 companies that are currently insuring the controversial Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline in Canada. These global insurance giants are providing more than USD$500 million in coverage for the massive risks of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, and they're also lined up to cover the expansion project.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Leah Campbell

After several months of stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many households are beginning to experience family burnout from spending so much time together.

Read More Show Less
Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less