Equator Banks Acted

First of all, thanks so much for taking action with us and our partners as part of the Equator Banks Act campaign. Over 110,000 people (including many of you) signed a petition calling on the biggest banks in the world to stop financing climate disasters and respect Indigenous rights. Even better, hundreds of you showed up at more than 50 #DivestTheGlobe actions in cities and towns around the world. Some of the highlights:

  • Mazaska Talks #DivestTheGlobe action by the numbers
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    Seattle activists visited or shut down over 100 branches of the big banks in 3 days of action.

  • Nearly 100 faith and ethics groups joined the call to action, demanding that Bank of America, TD Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and other big banks stop funding fossil fuel projects.
  • There were amazing, beautiful actions in cities all over the world including Columbia, South CarolinaLausanne, SwitzerlandNew Haven, CTOakland, California; and many many more.
  • Check out the feed below from Mazaska Talks which was made live on the first day of action.

Even, better (and worth waiting for) — I’ve got breaking news to share from the actual Equator Banks meeting itself in Brazil. Just to re-cap: 90 of the world’s largest banks met in Brazil October 23-26 to recommit to the Equator Principles, a set of rules guiding which big infrastructure projects they will and won’t finance. Our petitions and actions were intended to pressure these “Equator Banks” or EQIFs banks to rewrite and revisit their own (voluntary) commitment to those principles: Specifically the fact that Equator Banks had financed disasters for our climate AND indigenous rights like the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Agua Zarca hydro project, where Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was murdered for leading Indigenous resistance.

Well, just today we got word that it worked! The Equator Banks released a statement saying that they will “start a process of updating the Equator Principles” with a special focus on the “important implications of the Paris Agreement” and “application of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in different jurisdictions”. 

Let’s be clear, this is EXACTLY what we asked for from these 90+ Equator Banks. And it is 100% a result of the pressure and publicity YOU helped put on them with your signatures, actions, events and more.

congratulations: minions cheering
Congrats

It’s also not, obviously, the end of the story. The Equator Banks process is planned to take more than 18 months, and hasn’t officially started yet. And we’ve already seen that even when banks promise to do the right thing, they often exempt current project, make caveats or otherwise backslide almost immediately.

Your continued diligence and follow up will be absolutely essential – and we promise to help by staying connected to Mazaska Talks and other indigenous, direct action, and pipeline fighting groups around the world. We’ll let you know the next time there’s an action, petition or event you can participate in on this campaign.

IN the meanwhile, what now? Well, if you like winning, and enjoyed this whole arc of emails from me and 198 methods (I’m the only person who works here) – then consider leaving us a tip. I love it when people chip in $1.98/week because it gives us the money to keep working week in and week out on projects like divest the globe, while paying a minimum (less than $1 a month) in credit card processing fees (for everything else, there’s Mastercard). I’d also point out that this action is exactly the sort of thing I started 198 methods to do: A big, digitally supported day(s) of action with over 100,000 people signed on, dozens of actions around the world, and a clear result (#winning) at the end.

I’m psyched, let’s do this again, soon.

Thanks,

Drew and the 198 ways to take direct action and divestment is one, crew.

Oakland Action Photo by Jake Conroy / RAN

Big news – Basic economics killed a pipeline

TransCanada, the same company behind Keystone XL, just pulled the plug on its disastrous $15.7 billion Energy East Pipeline in Canada.

This is a huge win for all the climate activists, Indigenous leaders and nations, and Canadians of all sorts who fought for years to stop this pipeline — just as we in the US have been fighting to stop #KXL and the Dakota Access Pipeline (#DAPL).

Ultimately, it wasn’t a rally, protest, or petition that slayed the great black snake known as Energy East — it was basic economics.

That’s important for two reasons: One, it puts added pressure on TransCanada and their partners to deliver on KXl, DAPL and other projects — one down, many to go and the stakes just got higher. Two, it indicates that we can stop these projects by speaking their language — and money talks.

Divest the Globe, Defund the PipelinesSign here to stand with Mazaska Talks* and other allies in telling the big banks: stop financing climate disasters and respect Indigenous rights!

It’s important to understand that big pipelines and other fossil fuel projects are funded almost entirely by the big banks — companies like Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America. You undoubtedly know many of those big banks, they have branches on millions of street corners in most cities and towns like Columbia. You might even use them for your checking accounts or credit cards.

They’d rather you didn’t know that they’re financing climate disaster projects like Energy East, KXL, and DAPL. That’s why many of them signed onto the Equator Principles. It’s a promise between the biggest banks to NOT finance projects that threaten the climate and local communities. It sounds good, but they haven’t lived up to their promise.

The Dakota Access Pipeline was financed by these so called “Equator banks”, even though it was built to pump the dirtiest oil on earth, and was fiercely opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Lakota Tribes.

It’s not just in the U.S., either: The Agua Zarca dam in Honduras, also passed the ‘Equator test’ as a project supposedly respecting the rights of the Lenca communities. Tragically, Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was murdered for speaking out against the project.

On October 23rd, 92 of the world’s largest banks will meet in São Paolo, Brazil to discuss and re-commit to the Equator Principles. The list of attendees will include DAPL & KeystoneXL financiers such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, and many more.

This coalition is calling on allies everywhere to participate by signing this petition and joining us for a mass global action between October 23-25. Will you sign here to tell the big banks: stop financing climate disasters and respect Indigenous rights?

PS – Once you’ve signed on, click here to host or attend a local rally, protest or teach-in on October 23, 24 or 25 as part of this collective “Divest The Globe” action!

* “mazaska” is a Lakota for “money”, an homage to the resistance at Standing Rock. The website Mazaskatalks.org is a centralized resource for this campaign, with detailed financial data as well as tools for taking action.

Reportback – day of action on FERC nominees

This week, as part of our ongoing campaign to stop fracked gas pipelines and export terminals by keeping the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) shut down, we visited the US Senate to deliver thousands of your letters, signatures and messages.

Big Props to the Delaware River Keeper Network, who organized a lot of the logistics and set up dozens of meetings for our team on capitol hill. And special thanks (as always) to our besties at Beyond Extreme Energy and Berks Gas Truth who showed up to walk the halls, lobby legislators and work the press with us.

Here’s a short video recap from our friends (I’m the one in the grey suit) and a written reportback follows:

Our pipeline fighters were on the hill today to talk about FERC, and the #DirtyEnergyBill. I sat in on a meeting with Sen. Sanders staff that was predictably amicable. In fact, within hours of our catching up, Bernie had put out a statement opposed to the energy bill, and re-iterated his opposition to Trump’s extreme FERC nominees. But he is, frustratingly, the ONLY Senator to have raised objections so far.

The other meetings I sat in on, with staff for Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA) were less encouraging. Cartwright’s staff were sympathetic, he’s got major gas pipelines proposed for his district and says he hears about it all the time from constituents. he’s mad at FERC for rubber stamping these projects without adequate community review, and conversant in the need to invest in renewable energy (not just gas). Even more important, the day before our meeting Cartwright had voted NO (the right vote) on legislation to dramatically expand FERC’s powers, including giving them oversight of international oil pipelines like Keystone XL.

But Cartwright’s staffer was also pretty down-beat on our chances: he said several times that as the minority party in the house, Democrats just don’t have much power to fight or stop bad energy legislation. That’s true, as far as it goes procedurally, but it’s not exactly the kind of leadership we’re looking for to inspire the resistance or unite the supposedly bi-partisan movement of Congress that wants to #ActOnClimate.

The Warner meeting was, if anything, more frustrating. The staffer was courteous and knew what we were about. He (like most Democrats) said that the Senator cares about climate change, and wants to invest in renewable energy. He also allowed as how he hears a lot from constituents, especially in the western part of the state, about how FERC’s trampling local property rights and the environment by fast tracking the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. But when we put the tough questions to him – whether he’d vote against FERC nominees, demand hearings on their abuses of power, and vote against the #DirtyEnergyBill – it was clear Warner wanted to #ActOnClimate only insofar as it didn’t actually require him to vote on anything. He plans to vote YES on the Dirty Energy Bill, and while he hasn’t committed one way or another, it seems like he’d vote to approve the FERC commissioners too.

Elsewhere, our team was walking the halls making sure everyone knew about FERC and fracking and the need for action. They bumped into Senator Hirono in the halls, one of only three Democrats (Sanders and Wyden are the other two) to vote against the FERC nominees in committee. After confusing her with an un-woke Senator, our team thanked her profusely, and later got to meet with her staff and thank them again. I get the sense that Markey is probably get-able, but I didn’t meet with his staff. Ditto on Merkley and Warren – I didn’t talk directly to anyone on their staff but based on other conversations, and their Climate Hawks scores, they probably lean no.

We also ran into Sen Al Franken in the hall, and chatted with him for a few. We didn’t talk long enough to pin his vote down, but my guess is that he’s a yes until persuaded — he also voted for FERC nominees out of committee, just as an example of when he’s followed Cantwell and Murkowski’s lead in recent weeks. Those votes are surprising mostly because Franken has been making funny new videos for the internet and writing books about how he’s a badass climate warrior speaking truth to power. It’s hard to believe that, though, when he’s voting for Trump’s nominees, to approve more pipelines, and expedite the construction of new fracked gas infrastructure. I couldn’t resist a little snark for the former SNL performer, so we made a quick video mocking that contradiction too.

I tried to pitch the idea to anyone who would listen, but especially Warner (who’s a member of Democratic leadership in the Senate) that if the Democrats are serious about building a different energy future than Trump and the Republicans (see also, Paris, Climate Agreement, The) then they really can’t be voting for an energy bill co-sponsored by Murkowski and fast-tracked by McConnell. If they vote for this, all Democrats will be doing is giving McConnell and team a pop of good press and “look how clever and bipartisan Republicans can be when the President doesn’t tweet”.

But it seems clear that nobody in Democratic leadership is buying that line, yet. Their new “better deal” plan includes exactly 0 references to climate change or a just transition to a clean energy future — despite the fact that rebuilding our energy economy could be the biggest jobs program (public or private) since the WPA. And for some reason they’re still not making the connection that fracked gas is a fossil fuel. It’s a bridge to nowhere and any vote that expands, fast-tracks, expedites or exports gas is a vote against the climate. Too many of them are possessed by what I sometimes call “Booker’s Myopia” — named for fantastic frontman and terrible negotiator Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ). Booker’s Myopia is characterized by an inability to see past the value of bi-partisanship, a sort of myopia that focusses on how brave and reasonable one looks “reaching across the aisle” while missing the point that looking reasonable while negotiating with an authoritarian regime hell bent on destroying the planet is not actually a good thing.

Booker became the name-sake of this illness (which presents disproportionally in Democrats from safe seats in the Senate. Check your Senators regularly by asking “so, will you vote against legislation that causes climate change, even if it has a bi-partisan co-sponsors?”) when he cheerfully negotiated an end to the us ban on crude oil exports DURING the paris climate talks. It was a perfect storm of blindness – Booker’s own constituents (local oil refineries in NJ) hated the plan, as did nearly every environmental group and Climate Justice campaign. The only people for it were the big oil companies. But there was Booker, parading around the paris COP talks like a hero while giving ExxonMobil exactly what it wanted for Christmas. That sort of thing would make most of us blind, but Booker’s immune due to the Myopia.

Anyway, we’re not done yet in the fight to stop FERC and the #DirtyEnergyBill. The Senate is due to take up Health Care next, and that will buy us at least a few more days, maybe a week or two, to round up the votes we need in opposition. As a reminder, the Dirty Energy Bill will need 60 votes, and there are all kinds of procedural ways to slow down or block a FERC nominee. So if even a handfull of Senators are willing to stand up and fight for our climate, we can mount a serious challenge.

You can chip in to keep us fighting here, and stay tuned for further updates and actions.

About that Republican Carbon Tax

Editorial boards everywhere are positively swooning over the dulcet crooning of a new boy band called The Climate Leadership Council (CLC). That’s right, the carbon tax band is back together! But as usual, for backers of a carbon tax, the editorial boards are missing a fundamental truth: Climate change will not be solved by a bipartisan consensus of old white men. And we know this is so because 1) We’ve heard all this before; 2) This isn’t a sincere attempt to solve climate change, it’s grandstanding by paid pundits; and 3) Sincere, workable plans to solve climate change exist, but they’re never written by bipartisan old white men from the pundit class.

more “About that Republican Carbon Tax”