*Editor’s note* I kept looking for a break in the Trump news to send this email, instead, I emailed out an earlier version of it 20 minutes before a special prosecutor was appointed. *sigh*If you’re still looking for a way to respond directly — by calling for impeachment, an independent investigation, or a lick of sanity — then follow the links and know that we all say Amen. If you’ve had enough Trump news for a moment, and are looking for something else to do that really makes a difference, read on.
The Global Movement to Divest is Working.
Earlier this month in New York and around the world, we saw the power of the Global Divestment Mobilization. Activists rallied in Sweden at the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, at over a dozen Chase Bank branch locations in Seattle, and on the terrace inside of Trump Tower in New York.1
Each action was unique, but they all carried the same basic demand: to have our neighbors, our elected leaders, and our institutions divest from the very fossil fuel companies that are destroying the planet. And we’re not done yet!
Our work is already having an impact. Last week, US Bank announced that it would stop directly funding FUTURE pipeline projects.2
It’s a good start, though notably US Bank has just renewed its lending to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and to a series of natural gas pipelines in the East,3so clearly, they (and we) have more work to do. And NO US Bank did NOT yet stop funding pipelines.
And this is the perfect time to turn up the pressure on the banks, in particular, for their role in financing the climate crisis. Summer is also the season when most big companies hold their shareholder meetings. And the global divestment movement is putting the screws to companies large and small in demanding that they align their investments with the future of life on earth: US Bank’s announcement came after years of pressure (and an epic banner drop during a nationally televised football game),4 and was made at their shareholder meeting. And at their shareholder meeting a few weeks ago, Citgroup Chairman Mike O’Neill apologized to two indigenous women who’d been leaders in the #NoDAPL fight and said “We wish we could have a do-over on [the Dakota Access Pipeline]”.5 Even Exxon may face a shareholder revolt this month.6
Just as important, the tar sands are actively shopping for new investors right now. Several banks are attempting to round up $5.5 billion (Canadian dollars) in new credit to fund Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. The Keystone XL and Energy East pipelines (both Transcanada projects) will soon be in the same position. It’s time to turn up the pressure, and where possible, move your money.
The black snakes may be filled with oil, but the eat money. And now is our chance to drive them off before they devour sacred lands, defile our water, and poison our climate in the process.
Another sign that we’re making progress: The managers of the biggest public pensions in America are starting to squirm. Earlier this year, thousands of California public employees, teachers, and retirees banded together to demand that CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in America, divest from the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. They responded positively at first – committing to support some of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s demands concerning a re-route and delay of the pipeline.7 But since then, they’ve swung hard in the other direction – putting out an anti-divestment statement from the board and actively shutting down our friends who tried to show up and demand a policy from the pension fund that matches the commitment to #ActOnClimate from California politicians and public employees.8
The story has been similar in New York, where pressure is building on the Comptrollers of New York City and State to align the money in their public pension funds with the claims of politicians like Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman who want to stop climate change, investigate Exxon and block new fossil fuel infrastructure.9 Comptrollers DiNapoli and Stringer were specifically called out to take leadership at that Trump Tower last week, and Stringer, in particular has the power to help move NYC’s banking later this week.10 But instead of showing leadership, so far they’ve talked about “engagement” with the fossil fuel companies.11
What CalPERS and the New York Comptrollers are missing is that Divestment isn’t only a financial decision. Divestment isn’t a thing you do because the markets are going to save us from climate change (spoiler alert, capitalism, at least this form of it, is the problem). It’s a thing you do because some things are just too wrong to invest in. There’s money to be made in war, human trafficking and all kinds of things. But no elected official or public pension fund would ever support investing in criminal enterprises.
We’re saying that banking with Wells Fargo, or buying a bond for the KeystoneXL pipeline is morally similar – when you do, you personally as a human are paying to wreck the climate, colonize and brutalize our indigenous neighbors, build pipelines, and physically abuse people. You can say you didn’t know that’s what you were paying for. But once someone has shown you that yes, your money is being used to do evil things, you’re accountable for it.
Lucky for all of us – from the hunred-aire with a Wells Fargo checking account to the New York City Comptroller – that we live in the modern world with stuff like solar panels and community re-investment programs so that you can divest from evil fossil fuels it and still make money, satisfy fiduciary responsibilities to your shareholder/beneficiaries and sleep at night, all at the same time.
Drew and the divestment is one of the 198 methods crew.
Illustration courtesy of Mazaskatalks.org.
1 – https://globaldivestmentmobilisation.org/ – https://indypendent.org/2017/05/taketrumptower-teach-ins-reclaim-public-space/ – https://gofossilfree.org/trumptowergdm/ – https://facebook.com/divestinvest/posts/1585381741485913
2 – http://www.ecowatch.com/us-bank-divest-pipelines-2408440397.html
3 – http://lastrealindians.com/no-us-bank-has-not-stopped-funding-pipelines-yet/
4 – http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/01/us/dapl-protester-minnesota-vikings-chicago-bears-us-bank-stadium/
5 – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-citigroup-shareholder-meeting-idUSKBN17R20Y
6 – https://www.breakingviews.com/considered-view/investors-may-impose-a-climate-change-upon-exxon/
7 – http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article131349249.html
8 – http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article144047384.html
9 – http://gothamist.com/2017/05/09/trump_tower_climate_protest.php
10 – https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-the-nyc-banking-commission-to-defunddapl
11 – https://twitter.com/GoFossilFree/status/864631556102598656