The cities of San Francisco and Seattle have pulled their money out of fossil fuel companies, taking a climate divestment campaign from college campuses to local government.
The campaign group 350.org said on Thursday it had won commitments from a total of 10 cities and towns to divest from 200 of leading fossil fuel companies.
“Divestment is just one of the steps we can take to address the climate crisis,” the Seattle mayor, Mike McGinn, said in a statement. The divestment decision carries real weight for cities such as San Francisco, which control large employee pension funds.
City supervisors in San Francisco voted this week to move some $583m in its $16bn pension fund that was invested in fossil fuel companies. Other cities that signed on to the divestment campaign include: Madison and Bayfield in Wisconsin, Ithaca, New York, Boulder, Colorado, State College, Pennsylvania, Eugene, Oregon, and Richmond and Berkeley, both in California.
Jamie Henn of 350.org said the divestment commitments from those smaller centers would help put pressure on state authorities to take a look at their investments.
He said the group also hoped the move by the cities would build momentum for the divestment effort now underway on American college campuses.
Students activists are now running climate divestment campaigns on more than 300 college campuses. So far, four colleges have divested since the campaign got underway last autumn: Unity, Hampshire, Sterling and College of the Atlantic. All four are smaller universities with strong environmental programs.
But organizers were now looking to gain traction at Ivy League campuses which control multi-billion endowment funds. Earlier this month, a committee at Brown University urged trustees to pull its funds out of 15 of the country’s largest coal companies. The campaign also hoped to make headway at Columbia, and in the University of California system.
Oil tower with gas flare on the Napo River in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.
(04/30/2013) Tribal groups in Earth’s largest rainforest are already being affected by shifts wrought by climate change, reports a paper published last week in the British journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. The paper, which is based on a collection of interviews conducted with indigenous leaders in the Brazilian Amazon, says that native populations are reporting shifts in precipitation patterns, humidity, river levels, temperature, and fire and agricultural cycles. These shifts, measured against celestial timing used by indigenous groups, are affecting traditional ways of life that date back thousands of years.
(04/30/2013) Independent air samples by locals have yielded “a soup of toxic chemicals” in Mayflower, Arkansas where an Exxon Mobil pipeline burst on March 29th spilling some 5,000 barrels of tar sands oil, known as bitumen. Chemicals detected included several linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and neurological impacts such as benzene and ethylbenzene. Air samples were taken by community leader and University of Central Arkansas student April Lane a day after the spill. However, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA)’s and Exxon Mobil’s air samples have yielded chemical levels below harm except in the direct clean-up area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).
(04/29/2013) The environment is a public good. We all share and depend on clean water, a stable atmosphere, and abundant biodiversity for survival, not to mention health and societal well-being. But under our current global economy, industries can often destroy and pollute the environment—degrading public health and communities—without paying adequate compensation to the public good. Economists call this process “externalizing costs,” i.e. the cost of environmental degradation in many cases is borne by society, instead of the companies that cause it. A new report from TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity), conducted by Trucost, highlights the scale of the problem: unpriced natural capital (i.e. that which is not taken into account by the global market) was worth $7.3 trillion in 2009, equal to 13 percent of that year’s global economic output.
(04/25/2013) Climate change is in part to blame for rising conflict and crime in Nigeria, according to the president’s National Security Advisor, Colonel Sambo Dasuki. Speaking to the House Committee on Climate Change, Dasuki said that the rise of Boko Haram insurgents, a jihadist group in northern Nigeria, and worsening crime was linked to climate change reports All Africa.
(04/22/2013) The world could be heading for a major economic crisis as stock markets inflate an investment bubble in fossil fuels to the tune of trillions of dollars, according to leading economists. “The financial crisis has shown what happens when risks accumulate unnoticed,” said Lord (Nicholas) Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics. He said the risk was “very big indeed” and that almost all investors and regulators were failing to address it.
(04/22/2013) While the month of March saw colder-than-average temperatures across a wide-swath of the northern hemisphere—including the U.S., southern Canada, Europe, and northern Asia—globally, it was the tenth warmest March on record in the last 134 years, putting it in the top 7 percent.
(04/21/2013) From 1971 to 2000, the world’s land areas were the warmest they have been in at least 1,400 years, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. The massive new study, involving 80 researchers from around the world with the Past Global Changes (PAGES) group, is the first to look at continental temperature changes over two thousand years, providing insights into regional climatic changes from the Roman Empire to the modern day. According to the data, Earth’s land masses were generally cooling until anthropogenic climate change reversed the long-term pattern in the late-19th Century.
(04/17/2013) Four young explorers including American actor Ezra Miller have planted a flag on the seabed at the north pole and demanded the region is declared a global sanctuary. The expedition, organized by Greenpeace, saw the flag lowered in a time capsule that contained the signatures of nearly 3 million people who are calling for a ban on exploitation in the region.