U.S. Bank has become the first major bank in the U.S. to formally exclude gas and oil pipelines from their project financing. This groundbreaking change to their Environmental Responsibility Policy was publicly announced at the annual shareholders meeting in Nashville in April.
Following the epic April 29 Climate March for jobs, justice and climate, organizers are focusing on building powerful and lasting change at the local and state level.
Ahead of the People's Climate March, Senators Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey stood beside movement leaders to introduce legislation that will completely phase out fossil fuel use by 2050. The "100 by '50 Act" outlines a bold plan to support workers and to prioritize low-income communities while replacing oil, coal and gas with clean energy sources like wind and solar.
New York City's Riverside Church, founded by the Rockefellers and the tallest church in the U.S., announced Tuesday that it intends to divest its $140 million endowment from all fossil fuels within five years. It has already divested from coal and this builds on that action in the lead up to the Peoples Climate March and Global Divestment Mobilization.
This Saturday's March for Science is inherently connected to the April 29 People's Climate March, climate scientists and environmentalists say: one march is about listening to science, the other is about acting on it.
"The decision is a major blow to Exxon's efforts to distract from the valid investigations into whether the company lied to the public and its investors about the dangers of global warming," Jamie Henn, 350.org strategic communications director, said.
By Jamie Henn
It's not yet halfway through Trump's first 100 days in office and his administration has already shown they'll go to any length to dismantle the laws and regulations that protect our air, water and climate.
Trump's team has already started to dismantle some of the nation's most important environmental laws, from the Waters of the United States rule that keeps our rivers and streams free from pollutants, to regulations intended to prevent dangerous methane emissions from fracking, an already dangerous and controversial practice.
Now, reports in the New York Times and elsewhere that Trump and his denier cabinet are going to start dismantling the the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards that limit pollution from cars and trucks, rules that save consumers trillions of dollars by getting automakers to produce more fuel efficient vehicles. Also on the chopping block is the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's rules cutting back on carbon emissions from coal fired power plants.
We already know that we won't be able to count on Congress to intervene. The GOP didn't bat an eye in approving climate change denier Scott Pruitt as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an agency he'd sued numerous times. Revelations that Pruitt worked directly with industry to weaken environmental laws only seemed to encourage Republicans to vote for him. They saw him as one of their own: a fossil fuel industry shill, ready to put profits over public health each and every time.
That means that it's up to all of us. The American people still overwhelmingly support laws to protect our air, water and climate. Recent polling shows that even Trump voters support rules to put a price on carbon pollution. And why not? Climate change won't just impact blue states and leave red states alone. From sea level rise in Louisiana to increased drought in Utah, conservative areas are also beginning to feel the impacts of climate change.
Public opinion is on our side, but the politics are steeply against us. That means that our primary job isn't to convince people to "care" about what's happening, they do. It's to mobilize the millions upon millions of Americans who are deeply concerned and want to do something about it. We need to remind people (and ourselves) that there are clear and powerful ways to make our voices heard, to push back on Trump's agenda and to hold our representatives accountable.
One of those ways is by taking part in the People's Climate Mobilization this April 29. Marches and rallies are already being organized across the country and in Washington, DC. We're going to show Trump that he can try and deny the reality of the climate crisis, but he can't deny the power of the American people. Together, we're going to stand up to this administration's attacks on our climate and communities and put forward the vision of a clean energy economy that works for all.
We know that the real opportunity to create a better economy isn't by stripping away environmental regulations, but by investing in the transition to 100 percent renewable energy. We also know it's often low-income workers and people of color who get hit the hardest when we roll back environmental protections and that those same communities would benefit most from a new, clean energy economy.
With a week of action kicking off with the Science March on April 22, the People's Climate Mobilization will be a powerful way to help defend the EPA and continue to demonstrate that the public cares deeply about climate, jobs and justice. Trump and the GOP can only continue to get away with their radical, anti-climate agenda if we stay silent. Sustained public outcry is our best shot at beginning to reign in the worst excesses of this administration and force other politicians at the local, state and national level to stand up and fight back.
The EPA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Protection Act weren't put into place because their was some hippy environmentalist in the White House, but by none other than Richard Nixon, who couldn't have given a damn about the environment. The only reason Nixon took action was because tens of millions of Americans took the streets during the first Earth Day in 1970 and turned that into real political power by sustaining that pressure.
Now, nearly 50 years later, it's our turn to fight and protect that legacy—the future that depends on it. The People's Climate Mobilization on April 29 is a huge chance to show that we won't let our climate and communities be sacrificed so that the fossil fuel industry can have one last hurrah before renewables inevitably take their place. Let's get to work.
Within 100 hours of Donald Trump's inauguration, in the first and largest youth-led mobilization of 2017, thousands of students across the country walked-out of class in protest of Trump and his corrupt fossil fuel billionaire cabinet. This comes just two days after nearly 3 million people mobilized in Women's Marches around the world. Students on dozens of campuses across the country are demanding administrations resist and reject Trump's climate denial cabinet by divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in solutions to the climate crisis.
"In the face of Trump's dangerous climate denial, youth are rising up," said Greta Neubauer, director of the Divestment Student Network. "For any chance at curbing the worst impacts of climate change, our universities must stand on the right side of history with students and take action now against Trump's climate denial. We won't allow Trump and his fossil fuel billionaire cabinet to foreclose on our future."
Monday's day of action, dubbed #ResistRejectDenial, is also the largest youth-led mobilization in the history of the fossil fuel divestment movement. Students and youth have been a driving force leading the fossil fuel divestment movement to be the mainstream global movement it is today, with more than 600 institutions across 76 countries representing more than $5.2 trillion in assets committing to some level of divestment.
The same day as Trump's inauguration, the Oregon State University board unanimously voted to divest from all fossil fuels. Other key commitments from colleges and universities in the U.S. include the University of Massachusetts Foundation, the University of Maryland, as well as Georgetown University and the University of California school system that have committed to partial fossil fuel divestment. Divestment has taken hold on campuses around the world, including in the United Kingdom where a quarter of universities have committed to divest.
"I need my university to stand up for our futures under Trump's dangerous and corrupt climate denial," said Samantha Smyth, sophomore at Appalachian State University. "We must disavow the blatant disregard for our well-being and future by climate deniers in office. We must stand up for the millions of people who are dying at the hands of powerful, morally corrupt individuals who deny climate change."
Prior to election day, young people proved themselves a force to be reckoned with. This was demonstrated in unprecedented political engagement throughout the election, challenging candidates to take stronger stances on climate, as well as in youth organized sit-ins at senate offices, engagement in mass mobilizations such as Women's Marches and the #DayAgainstDenial and rallying to oppose Trump's corrupt climate-denying appointees.
Young people have been a driving factor in pushing our institutions to stand on the right side of history, with two consecutive years of on-campus escalation from 100 campuses, resulting in more than 30 arrests, with victory at the University of Massachusetts, University of California and University of Oregon. Since 2014, thousands of students across the country have participated in national escalation for fossil fuel divestment.
Beyond fossil fuel divestment, young people are taking action to ensure elected officials take necessary action on climate and against Big Oil. In an ongoing lawsuit, 21 young people from across the U.S. filed a landmark lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to address the effects of climate change.
"This is a wake up call to Donald Trump; there are almost 75 million people in this country under the age of 18," said Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, youth director of Earth Guardians and a plaintiff in the federal climate change lawsuit. "We didn't have an opportunity to vote in the past election, but we will suffer the consequences of climate inaction to a greater degree than any living generation. Our right to a just and livable future is nonnegotiable."
Just last week, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record and the second hottest year in U.S. history surpassing records of 2015 and 2014. Extreme weather, including storms, floods and droughts, are impacting communities at a pace and magnitude far exceeding previous predictions, making it even more crucial that institutions divest and take meaningful action on climate.
"Hope is something we must create. In this moment, the best way to do that is by taking action and showing that we will rise to this moment," said Neubauer. "When it comes to climate change, time is not on our side. This is just the beginning of the opposition that the Trump's Administration should expect from young people"